How workspace design affects employee experience, engagement and culture in the workplace.

Employee experience exists at the intersection of the Cultural, Technological and Physical environments in the workplace. A great employee experience is assured when these factors are in sync. Here are 5 things to think about when designing your office to maximize employee engagement.


Take the time to understand what makes your company unique. Develop some guiding principles and ensure that both your workspace and culture are supportive of them. If new ideas generated by collaboration are critical to your company's success, then build in spaces where staff can take time out to meet and engage with each other in casual settings and make sure this type of behaviour is not only permitted but encouraged.


Thanks to digital technology and mobile communications, fewer and fewer people need to undertake the daily commute into the office. Many of us no longer need to be at our desks to get work done because work can happen anywhere. Don't worry though, the office isn't going to disappear because enlightened companies are turning their workplaces into destinations where staff can come together to get the kind of face time that FaceTime™ can't replace. Offices are becoming places where staff come to focus, collaborate, learn, and celebrate. The most successful workplaces will be designed to maximize employee experience by providing 'fit for purpose' environments to carry out these activities more successfully.


There's recently been a lot of negative press about the open office and the truth is that the majority of people don't need to be in a collaborative environment all day long. Most need time to conduct focused work and certain personality types need more still. The secret is to build a workplace that provides a variety of places, spaces, and postures that employees can move to throughout their day and that best support the work mode that they’re in at any given time. When combined with supportive technology and culture, this type of agile workplace has been proven to enhance employee engagement.


Sustainability has become a given when it comes to the built environment. The LEED™ standard and public demand has prompted manufacturers to provide products that have recycled content or don't off-gas. Energy conservation measures have been written into the building code and property developers are focusing on locations accessible by transit or providing eco-friendly options such as electric vehicle charging stations and bike storage/changing facilities.

The next logical step is for employers to promote employee sustainability through WELL™ certification which explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness impacts on us as occupants. WELL™ Certified spaces can help create a work environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and performance of its occupants and therefore promotes employee engagement.


Our workplaces are becoming more diverse and if you want to attract the best talent then you need a workplace that allows them to be their best. Traditional offices often appear to have been designed for extroverts but clearly many of us don't thrive in those kinds of environments and do our best work away from the hustle and bustle of the open plan. Why not create quiet spaces that are conducive to focus and concentration so that everyone can find a space that works for them? These same spaces could double as nap rooms or even quiet contemplation/prayer rooms allowing staff to address their spiritual needs during working hours.


Implementing all of the above would require some fairly significant commitment from an organizational leadership standpoint, however the potential rewards from an employee engagement perspective are huge. Don't just take our word for it; here's a blog post from our friends at Jostle which provides further insights on how to create engaging workplaces.


Space at Work are specialists in designing workplaces. We take the time to understand our client's requirements and by asking the right questions and listening to the responses we provide solutions that incorporate best practices, current and emerging trends to create spaces that are agile, adaptive and ready to accept whatever change is around the corner. Please contact us if you'd like to know more.


Rooftop patios - what are they good for?

When we conduct Space Needs Assessments for companies looking to lease new office space, one of the amenities that is increasingly coming up as a high priority is some form of outdoor space - typically a rooftop patio. Sounds very cool and why wouldn't you want one? Well, they're expensive from a rent and operating cost perspective and they're often only available in new buildings either for the sole use of the anchor tenant or as a shared amenity with all of the associated restrictions. Also, although those of us that live in the lower mainland like to kid ourselves, we don't live in California and there's a high probability of rain for 9 months of the year.

I'm not really selling it to you, am I? OK then, let's look at some of the benefits. 

A rooftop patio can be a way to really make your company's brand and culture come to life. It can be linked to your staff lunchroom or client area to give you a spectacular space to bring staff together, e.g. with a summer BBQ, to celebrate achievements or alternatively to entertain clients. 

In an Activity Based Working(ABW) environment where staff are provided with technology that allows them to work anywhere within the building, it can be another setting in your palette of places to collaborate, removing some of the pressure from your workhorse meeting rooms. It can be fun too. Don't we all remember when we were kids and on days when the weather was nice lessons were held outdoors?

Additionally, if you were planning to have your next office WELL certified to demonstrate your commitment as employer to the health & wellbeing of your staff then a quick look at the WELL standard suggests a whole raft of credits that could be achieved using the patio as a starting point.

How about a fitness court as a less intimidating supplement to the staff gym. Exercise equipment that looks like street furniture can be built into your patio space to provide a self-guided workout. There's even an app to help you progress.

My personal favourite 'bonus' use for the patio is as a staff garden. Using compact self watering container beds such as those from North Vancouver's LifeSpace Gardens staff can have access to fresh produce all year round by growing their own and trading surplus with colleagues or donating to charity. 

So all things considered rooftop patios are good for quite a lot of things, and if you apply some imagination then they can provide bang for your buck in terms of employee engagement and health and well-being that is difficult to beat. 

Alan Hancock, Principal, Workplace Design Consultant, Space at Work

Space at Work are specialists in designing workplaces. We take the time to understand our client's requirements and by asking the right questions and listening to the responses we provide solutions that incorporate best practices, current and emerging trends to create spaces that are agile, adaptive and ready to accept whatever change is around the corner. Please contact us if you have an upcoming workplace design project that would benefit from our expertise.