(Work)Space: The Final Frontier of Hiring

(Work)Space: The Final Frontier of Hiring

Does your Office Design attract top candidates (or repel them)?

So you’re in hiring mode. You’re hardly alone – and that’s why it’s so difficult to attract and successfully hire the best candidates. In today’s increasingly competitive market, you may feel like you’ve already done everything in your power to tip the scales in your favor. But have you? If you’ve managed to keep a top candidate interested throughout the interviewing process – but lose them at offer time, take a look around your office. Then ask yourself this: when is the last time you took a peek at the digs your competitors are offering? Sure, you’ve probably replace a few torn carpet tiles, maybe brought in a few plants… But when is the last time you made a substantial investment in the look, feel and composition of your work spaces? Maybe it’s time you did.

There’s been a lot of buzz over the past few years about employer branding and marketing. I’m assuming that you’ve already done the hard work of defining your employer brand, creating a marketing strategy, and selling your brand throughout the recruiting process. But all too often, recruiters and hiring managers forget one critical component of the employer branding and marketing process:

Work Space Packaging.

That’s right. I said packaging. Think about it. If you want to truly attract and retain the best talent available, you need to think like a marketer – at every level. Why would your target audience want to join your organization? Why would they want to keep coming back to work every day? When they’re in your environment, how productive, creative and simply happy does it make them feel?

A recent article at Inc.com explores the need for more “vitality” in our work spaces. I found their focus on “biophilic” (“nature loving”) design trends particularly compelling, especially for northern climate employers trying to attract top talent from out-of-state.

While you’ve been investing in highly collaborative, super productive teams, it’s possible that you’ve neglected to support those teams with a positive physical work environment. Yet, as anyone from Minnesota can tell you, the climate (and access to sunlight) that your office space creates has a dramatic effect on an employee’s willingness to show up every day. Check out these office design trends that every employer should consider.

1. Bring Nature Indoors with Biophilic Design
If the idea of water features, plant walls and massive skylights strike you as extravagant fads, they’re probably not. Considering the fact that most of us spend upwards of 90% of our time indoors, it’s understandable that we feel better, think better and work better when we’re better connected to the sights, sounds and fresher air of nature. A number of recent scientific studies have proven that to be the case.  Am I talking about adding plastic potted ficus trees near people’s cubicles? No. True Biophilic design even extends beyond living potted plants. If you’re serious about bringing this philosophy into your space, you’ll think about it as more of an architectural philosophy that incorporates natural light and living plants as well as the forms, textures, even sounds (such as moving water) of nature itself.  It’s a growing trend that is becoming especially popular in those areas where it’s simply tougher for employees to access nature every day.  Not ready to take the deep, green plunge? Start with desk top terrariums and see how it affects your mood and those of everyone around you.

2. “Unconventional” Work Areas
Not everybody does their best work while chained to the desk eight hours a day. This design approach, led largely by the growing population of millennial workers, accommodates a desire for collaborative spaces, wall-free zones, even atypical seating such as sofas, floor pillows and other design elements that encourage settling in, stretching out and hunkering down for serious brainstorming. If it all sounds too far out for you, do a few online searches of the term “unconventional office space” and you’ll be amazed by how this approach – practiced by highly successful employers around the word – can work.

3. “Homestyle Comfort” Design
Exactly what its name implies, this approach brings the comforts of a happy home into the work space. Sure, you may have a company fridge but do you have it stocked with fresh juices and sparkling water? What about a fireplace or a game area? At Skywater, we’ve devoted the center of our office area to game zone, complete with a basketball hoop. It’s one of the smartest investments we’ve ever made. Bringing homestyle comfort in starts with asking yourself what people need in order to feel at home. If you’re located within easy walking distance to coffee shops and restaurants, great. If you’re not, can you attract food trucks or provide healthy food options within the confines of your building? Providing these things shows your employees that you care about their needs and you listen to their wants. Plus, it has the added advantage of encouraging people to stick around, hang out and collaborate with each other more.

4. Dynamic Spaces
A growing trend that’s taken hold recently, dynamic spaces allow for multiple uses and frequent movement or change. When I hear dynamic space described as “that space for the creatives,” I feel the need to remind people of this: we all need to be – and feel – creative in our jobs. You can make your workspace more dynamic by choosing furniture that’s light weight, on casters, or easily moveable in other ways. This not only allows your employees to switch up their work environment to keep things fresh, it allows you to maximize the functions of limited square footage.

5. Go ahead. Add a little color.
Even if you’re sticking with gray cubicle walls, you don’t need to stick with a pale gray environment. Splashes of bold color can reinvigorate an otherwise tired looking space. But be sure to choose colors that complement each other and the environment you’re trying to create. Think of bold colors like music. Turn up the volume a little bit. But crank it too loud and you’ll overwhelm everybody’s senses.

Kurt Rakos

Kurt Rakos