In the past couple of years, hearing that an organization was instituting a new open office floor plan started to become almost commonplace. Far from the fringe trend it started as, the open office is now a go-to way for companies to attempt to improve their employee experience and revamp their workplace culture. Whether it actually achieves that goal has been hotly contested.
Open offices aren’t for everyone, and they’re certainly not the only thing employers are testing in an effort to increase their workers’ satisfaction. So, what’s the new “open office”?
Here are five of the newest workplace trends:
1. StartUp Culture
In a way, open office floor plans are a part of a larger trend brought about by the recent boom in startups. For these small, young companies, offering competitive salaries isn’t always fiscally possible – so many of them have attempted to make up for that by offering eye-catching perks and a looser, more inclusive work atmosphere. The strategy worked, and as a result, many larger, more established companies are now borrowing the model.
2. Increased Role of HR
To design and enact this new focus on employee satisfaction, many organizations are relying on their HR departments – adding to the trend of HR’s growing contribution to business and strategy decisions.
As Hope C. Paryzek, CEO of Principle Strategies LLC, says:
Businesses can no longer ignore the need for human resources. HR is one of the top 10 ten challenges for businesses. Whether a company has 1 employee or 50, each man-hour counts, and human resources ensures a strategy is in place that support a business. This strategy looks at performance requirements, skills needed, and budget. It also navigates the increased legislative changes and additions to employment law and benefits by implementing scalable processes procedures that insures a business maintains compliance.”
3. Standing desks
Any organization’s most valuable asset is its people, and many employers are beginning to take extra steps to make sure their employees are happy and healthy. One of the most popular tactics is through the standing desk.
By now it is clear that sitting is the new smoking, and office workers who sit behind a desk at a computer for 8+ hours a day are most susceptible,” says Lindsay Sydness, account executive at public relations and social content agency, InkHouse. “The simple act of incorporating more standing into your day helps you by increasing energy, burning extra calories, increasing productivity, toning muscles, improving posture, increasing blood flow and ramping up metabolism.”
What’s good for the employee is good for the company. As Sydness points out, “Twenty years of ergonomics research shows up to an 18 percent increase in productivity when people stand more or use sit-stand workstations.” It’s practically the definition of a win-win.
4. Informal Collaboration
When it comes to common pet peeves about office life, few realities are more universally disliked than meetings. Take away meetings – or at least their most unpleasant aspects – and you’re looking at a much happier workforce.
The traditional model was to gather into a conference room or office, brainstorm various ideas and write them on a white board,” says Kevin Raxter, managing partner for IT staffing agency, The Centrics Group. “We are now seeing a lot of companies move these collaboration areas to anywhere and everywhere. Couch/chairs in an open area, the lounge area and many other spaces are now being utilized in creative ways. Some companies have simply turned their walls into white boards, so that collaboration can happen anywhere, anytime.”
5. Self-Service technologies
Technology is making many people’s jobs easier, and that’s not limited to their primary duties. Employers are increasingly turning to new self-service technologies to help facilitate internal functions and eliminate many common day-to-day frustrations from their employee’s lives.
People are familiar with self-service concepts in their daily life, like checking in for a flight, booking a hotel, or simply ordering a meal online from your favorite restaurant,” says Fred Guelen, president of North American operations with business software provider, Planon. “The same trend of self-service is now being utilized in many businesses’ support departments, like FM, IT and HR to allow employees to access support, services, facilities, and information easily and efficiently via the Web or specific mobile apps.”
Regardless of what form it takes, it’s clear that smart employers recognize creating a more enjoyable work experience for their employees is essential to building and maintaining an effective workforce.
Looking for ways to help your team get out of a rut? The answer may not be in adopting the latest trend, but in infusing some fun into your office. Check out these five tips.