by Shlomo Birnbaum
The definition of a successful and healthy workplace is one in which employees are happy to go to work in the morning and happy to go home in the evening.
Starting with the end in mind – that’s vision. I became involved with office furniture literally days before 9/11. At that time, the realization that furniture could have a significant impact on office culture was beginning to take shape, with juggernauts like Google setting the stage. Before long, it was no longer surprising to see companies giving out free snacks, drinks, utilizing high end espresso machines and even providing liquor in the pantry. The evolution continued with setting up elaborate kitchens and even recruiting master celebrity chefs to keep employees satiated, happy and productive. This phenomenon didn’t end with food – there were phone booths for people to make calls in a private setting, ping pong tables, pool tables, full game rooms with all the accoutrements from Atari and 100” flat screens to slides, XBOX and even a full blown gym to take a “time out” from the rigorous workday. And then the services starting rolling in, everything from a supervised play area for kids to dry cleaning services, from medical services to travel concierges…In case you missed it-the office evolution is well underway.
In setting up Starbucks Howard Shultz, had a vision as well. He coined it by saying he was providing “The Third Place”, for people to gather which is neither their home nor their work. He was extremely successful in creating this Third Place, but today employers are pushing back to keep their employees in the office by creating an improved environment, with the goal of eliminating the need for this Third Place. After all, you are saving them $5 twice a day and receiving the benefit of all that recaptured time.
The paradigm has shifted. The research is clear, revealing that today’s millennials aren’t simply looking for more money or a job they can simply coast through – they want to be part of something, they want to help influence change in everything they do. How do you recruit and maintain the best employees without overpaying significantly to retain them, while at the same time attaining the success of keeping them excited to come to work? This may be very easy to do if you are Google, but what about the rest of us who live on a much tighter budget?
At OFS Solutions, we realize that when running a small company on a budget, one cannot always afford to fly in the best feng shui masters from China. Creating a space that is more than simply a stack of cubicles, is not an unattainable goal. It’s actually much simpler than anyone realizes, and it’s almost sad that companies today will simply go out and buy a row of cubicles or benching stations without leveraging this purchase for a much greater return than a mere place to sit. As employers, we are all about leverage, yet we get so caught up in the “budget” we forget that we can obtain a tenfold return if we simply utilize this one-time investment -which you are making regardless- to create the proper environment to keep employees motivated and efficient in an setting which is conducive to collaboration and team building.
The benefits of inspiring environments are clear. Everything from low employee turnover (how much do you save by retaining even one team member), employees are 20%-50% more productive, speak highly about the culture to others, they take fewer breaks, and are happy to come to work. It’s time to embrace the new normal, and instead of thinking about saving 10% on your next furniture project, spend 10% more and join the evolution of office culture.