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Time for An Office Makeover? 5 Changes Employees Want to see Now

Where do old office computers go?What do employees want? Oh, that’s such a loaded question! I’m sure many of us could make lists the length of the office hallway detailing our opinions on what we believe makes employees happy. One thing do we know for sure is that employee morale isn’t a trend, but an ongoing effort. Within that ongoing effort, though, how do we know what’s on our employees’ own wish lists?

Well, a survey released in observance of  “Improve Your Office Day” has come along, peeled ink-stained paper out of the Trapper Keeper (where I have just decided all employee wish lists are stored), and shared their M.A.S.H. results survey findings with the world. Let’s take a look.

The survey, which asked employees about their likes/dislikes at work, as well as their suggestions for improving the office environment, found many employees aren’t too pleased with their technology – or their humble surroundings: More than half (52 percent) of the more than 300 workers surveyed gave their office furniture and office décor a “C” grade or lower, and 41 percent gave their office technology the same grade. Also on their lists? Politics, the right to work at home (or lack thereof), and privacy.

What is on employees’  office-improvement wish lists?

  • Eliminating office politics (44 percent)
  • Allowing or encouraging telecommuting (41 percent)
  •  Upgrading computers and other office technology (37 percent)
  • Getting nicer or more comfortable office furniture (35 percent)
  • Providing more private work areas and more flexible work hours (tied at 34 percent each).

Though it’s true that some employees do think they can do a better job than their boss, employees seem happy overall with their superiors. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents gave their boss a solid “A” grade, with a combined 78 percent rating their boss an “A” or “B.”

The snack dilemma

I know I’m not alone in saying that sometimes you spend what seems like days just staring at the office vending machine (or wall space where you imagine one should be), dreaming of that perfect snack you know won’t magically appear, no matter how many times you try your best Samantha Stevens nose twitch. And then, in utter despair, you don your heavy coat and slumber out into the crowded streets to hunt down the perfect piece of fruit or freshly made salad, all the while thinking of that big assignment you need to finish. But your stomach is winning the battle…

Wait a minute. Wouldn’t more snack and beverage options at work help save you a whole lot of time? According to survey results, yes: 57 percent of office workers have to buy their own snacks and beverages at work, and one in two respondents reported leaving the office on coffee or snack runs at least once a day, with some making as many as five trips per day. That’s a lot of lost productivity and unnecessary interruption. Now, I know what you’re thinking — employees can bring their own snacks. While this is true, it’s easy to forget those little things sometimes in the bustle of everyday life. As a wise man once said, sometimes, a bowl of bananas can make all the difference.*

*A wise man probably never said that… but still…

Happy employees don’t have to break the bank

Many businesses have taken measures to cut costs, and with that cost-cutting, those extras that employees enjoy so much are often the first to go. But doing little things to make employees smile or get through that extra-tough meeting don’t have to cost employers much at all — and they can make a big difference in the minds and hearts of the people so important to the business.

Staples offers these quick tips for improving the office in ways both employees and employers will appreciate:

  1. Stock the kitchen or break room with coffee and snacks that will energize the staff and keep them going. Providing nutritious snacks keeps employees healthy and productive.
  2. Take inventory of your technology, and replace outdated equipment that may be impeding productivity. In the last few years, technologies like wireless networks and all-in-one printers have advanced dramatically, while prices have actually fallen.
  3. Consider office décor and furniture upgrades that don’t require a complete overhaul. Simply replacing old, worn desk chairs and/or redecorating conference rooms can be easy, low-cost ways to make the office more attractive and comfortable.
  4. Arm employees with technology that makes it easy for them to telecommute. Tablet and notebook computers give employees the ability to take their work with them wherever they go, whether it’s on the road, at a client site, in a conference room or working from home.
  5.  Take employee privacy concerns into consideration when expanding or redesigning the office. Many newer office furniture systems, such as Staples’ environmentally preferable e3 panel system, offer creative ways to preserve privacy while maintaining an open, collaborative environment.


Again, changes don’t always have to come with a parade and fireworks to be effective. Even slight (and free) touches like adding more natural light in the office or changing up the same old meeting routine can help employees — and your business — be more successful, stimulate creativity, efficiency and communication. And if you want to know more specifics about your employees really want, don’t forget to ask them.


What changes has your workplace made recently to give employee morale a little lift?


Image courtesy of theogeo on Flickr

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.


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