Employees are the heart of any business, no matter the industry. They are the face of the company, the conduit to a happy customer base, and the source of innovation and growth. Therefore, it goes without saying that keeping employees engaged and satisfied with their individual positions, an employer should always be at the forefront of a company’s mindset.
One of the most important ways a business can keep their team content is to improve the physical work environment. While giving every team member a corner office, company car, and healthy travel allowance isn’t financially possible for most employers, TenantBase has put together a list of 6 office space amenities that your employees will love and, ultimately, help improve your bottom line.
Although none of these examples can cure all of a company’s ills, they can go a long way towards engaging an employee base with their organization. With highly engaged teams being 21% more productive than those who are not, it’s obviously in a company’s best interest to foster an environment that is fulfilling, healthy, and satisfying to their team.
Fitness Room/Office Gym
Even with the tremendous efficiencies brought to modern business by technology, most organizations require longer hours of their employees to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace. While such trends don’t always equal sedentary lifestyles, they certainly don’t naturally lend themselves to a healthy workforce.
For that reason, leasing office space in a building or complex that already has existing workout facilities provides an ease and convenience for your employees to stay in good physical shape, even when work days are long and demanding. From an employee's perspective, exercising on a regular basis can help them deal with stressors they might be feeling from their jobs or life in general that otherwise would negatively impact everything from sleep patterns and energy levels to mood and overall productivity.
Companies, of course, also benefit from healthy employees. In fact, research has shown that allowing team members to work out 2.5 hours per week on company time – a notion obviously made far easier when exercise facilities are on the premises – productivity levels rise despite the loss in working hours.
In financial terms, similar studies have shown that for every $1 an organization invests in employee wellness programs, $6 is gained in return through significant decreases in absenteeism, rise in productivity, and a generally more engaged, innovative workforce. Likewise, the improvement in morale that often accompanies frequent exercise can significantly increase employee engagement levels that the entire organization will benefit from.
While discounted gym memberships are certainly helpful in increasing overall employee health, the are still a far cry from the extreme convenience of having the workout facilities in the office space itself or within the complex.
Outdoor Areas and Natural Settings
Like office exercise facilities, a natural setting or convenient access to trails and parks from a company's office space can pay significant dividends in employee morale and well-being. As studies have demonstrated, natural light rather than the artificial, fluorescent glow that has unfortunately become synonymous with the modern workplace improves overall wellness and, ultimately, productivity from your team members.
Once again, with the average work day growing in both duration and stress, providing employees access to a more natural environment is a low-cost, easy way to give them a short but extremely beneficial escape from the daily grind, as well as access to much-needed natural light and fresh air.
Furthermore, depending on the nature of your business, size of the natural setting, and proximity to your office, WiFi and mobile technologies even allow employees to work from those outdoor areas. For a business that prefers their team members to work from the office rather than remotely from home, allowing them to take advantage of your company WiFi and cloud networks by working in an outdoor area adjacent to your office is a good compromise between required office attendance and escaping the tedious daily routine.
If outdoor or nature areas are not provided by your current facilities, it would be beneficial to keep them in mind when it comes time to look for new office space. Until that point comes, however, using indoor plants, natural tones, softer light sources, and other components of biophilic design within the office can provide some but not all of the benefits of having outdoor areas within the office complex.
Kitchen & Community Areas
A sense of camaraderie is an important component to a productive and efficient team. Although the traditional water coolers of old might be an antiquated notion in today's workplace, the important position they held can easily be replicated by kitchen and community areas that can serve a similar role. These areas can provide employees a designated place away from their desks where they can interact with one another, regroup during a stressful day, and just take a moment to relax and unwind.
Of course, a kitchen area is a convenient place for an organization to provide healthy snacks and fresh coffee or tea that they can enjoy in the community space or even take back to their desk without having to leave the office for food and beverages. A small kitchen facility with refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens, and other cooking conveniences also allow employees to prepare their own lunches and save money rather than constantly buying take-out or eating at local restaurants.
Transportation & Parking Options
With the rare exception of New York City and other densely populated urban areas, the workforce in most cities still prefer to drive to work, even when decent public transportation options are available. Therefore, companies must take transportation and parking options into serious consideration when choosing their office space.
It’s best to give employees as many viable transportation choices as possible, for example, bike storage for those that prefer to ride to the office – as well as close proximity to bus stops, railway, and subway stations – should be taken into account. The closer the office is to transit facilities, the more likely employees are to use them for their daily commute.
Although, as stated, cars appear to have a permanent foothold within the modern workforce, a company can benefit from increased numbers of employees that take advantage of public transportation due to reduced commuting times and lower stress levels.
Still, for the most part, companies will need to continue to take employee parking issues seriously when choosing office space, particularly in major cities where available parking is usually at a premium. In these instances, underground parking or a close by parking lot with ample security can be a major selling point in appealing to new talent and lowering attrition.
In fact, parking can be such an important perk that it can be negotiated into a lease contract. While landlords typically can't offer reserved parking spaces for each of your team members, negotiating as many as possible into the lease can be extremely attractive for both current and potential team members.
Likewise, using a designated parking spot as a monthly or quarterly reward for performance can increase productivity as each of your employees vie for that safe, close, and convenient parking place, no longer having to worry about running late for work while circling the lot a dozen times in search for an open spot.
Dining & Retail Options
An office complex that doesn't have an on-site cafeteria or even food trucks for lunch break options is essentially forcing tenants to leave the building to eat if they lack sufficient kitchen and community areas within the office. In fact, research has shown property managers are best served by allocating between 10% and 12% of shared space within an office complex towards on-site dining options and other amenities like gyms.
Even when the individual office spaces have designated kitchen and community areas, housing your offices within a complex that offers a cafeteria or other on-site eating options can only increase the appeal of the space. Companies and, therefore, their employees enjoy having the option to either bring their lunch to work, prepare it in the kitchen, buy their lunch at on-site facilities, or be able to walk a short distance to restaurants.
Regarding that last point, an office space within walking distance to a wide variety of restaurants, retailers, and necessities – including banks, post offices, and dry cleaners – allow employees to work longer hours without sacrificing their typical lifestyle. Likewise, having such conveniences close to work means your team members can easily run errands and attend to various personal matters without negatively impacting productivity by spending significant time out of the office.
If your office space isn’t close enough to these types of conveniences to make them viable options, you can contract with food trucks and pop-up restaurants for additional dining options as well as mobile dry-cleaning and even car wash services for employees to use. Granted, while these solutions aren't as effective as leasing office space close to dining and lifestyle conveniences, they can still be quite effective in satisfying an employee base and keeping them happy with their positions and employer.
Glass Walls and Lighting
As previously mentioned, natural light is almost always preferred to the artificial light commonly found in an office environment. Since harnessing natural light – particularly in large office spaces – can present design problems, using glass walls wherever appropriate is a simple solution to providing ample sources of natural light throughout the office while also creating a sense of openness.
Since glass walls typically cost a bit more than standard framed walls, companies on a budget should concentrate on using glass walls for the exterior of the space, using them for the interior areas of the office or even no walls at all depending on the cost constraints. Either way, whether a company uses glass walls or no walls for their interior spaces, each solution leaves more room for additional work areas or larger offices since traditional framed walls occupy significantly more area.
Aside from integrating natural light whenever possible, employers can also use more pleasant sources of artificial lights that illuminate spaces indirectly rather than the harsh, overhanging fluorescent fixtures of old. In fact, if you are in the process of searching for new office space, negotiate an allowance into the lease that will give you access to specific funds allocated for office design elements like lighting. Since both the amount of light as well as the type of light can regulate moods and, therefore, overall productivity for your team members, it should be a careful consideration when designing your office space.
Keeping employees happy is essential to staying competitive in a crowded marketplace. Any one of these six amenities can be extremely helpful in keeping a workforce engaged, fulfilled, and as productive as possible. Tenant Base urges you to take them into consideration next time you're looking for new office space since it's often the smaller details in both business and life that can yield the biggest results.