Office trends are seeing a huge shift from the dull, drab cubicles we worked in a decade ago. Many companies are now incorporating bright colors and sleek, modern architecture to make their offices more appealing.
There are companies, however, that are taking this a step further and incorporating open workspaces, bean bag chairs, go-karts, slides, and full-service cafés. More likely than not, the companies that utilize these cool perks tend to be technology companies.
Why? Because technology companies have a lot of competition. There’s a huge demand for highly-skilled, talented people, and the job seekers are in control. Many have several companies competing for the chance to work with them.
If job seekers aren’t comfortable in your company’s work environment, they’ll turn down your job offer. They won’t regret their decision because they know they can easily find another company that will value what they bring to the table and compensate them accordingly.
Nowadays, offering health insurance and five weeks of vacation time a year isn’t enough. Millennials are demanding more and more, and technology companies need to keep up. While many companies are doing well, some are struggling to keep employees for the long term.
What exactly are job seekers looking for? Here are some office trends that you’ll find in many large technology companies.
Open spaces. Tech employees no longer want to be trapped in cubicles. Most technology companies are now allowing open spaces so that employees can collaborate better. Open spaces help bring about an increase in energy, so employees are better able to come up with ideas and get more work done. Many companies have no assigned seating, so employees can sit and work where they feel most comfortable.
Open spaces help companies maximize square footage, so they can become more efficient with their real estate. However, it can be disruptive for some, especially older employees who may have more trouble focusing.
Collaboration. Some tech companies are looking to collaborate as much as possible with clients. To accomplish this, they may share their space. This means that companies and clients essentially work at the same location. They may share an office space, which makes collaboration much easier than talking on the phone or video chatting. When an employee needs clarification from a client, he or she can walk over to the client and communicate. It makes working more effective.
Privacy. At the same time, sometimes employees need privacy. Perhaps they need to make some phone calls or meet with clients. In these cases, open workspaces can be inappropriate. A company should have a good mix of openness, as well as privacy, so that employees have a choice.
Create sufficient closed-off areas and rooms so that employees can meet with others or perform work without distractions. Some companies call these focus rooms. Complete with chairs and a table, these small areas allow employees to get away from it all. They can escape the open layout for a bit and collect their thoughts as they focus intensely on a project.
Comfort. Couches and bean bags are replacing uncomfortable office chairs. Because most employees spend more time in the office than they do at home, companies want staff to experience the comforts of home even when they can’t be at home.
Besides comfortable chairs, technology companies offer many other perks, such as video games, free food, massage, yoga, and more. Many companies even have amenities onsite such as banking, dry cleaning, and barbers, allowing employees to get as much done as possible while at work.
Flexibility. While you may think your office layout will work for everyone, employees want flexibility. They want to be able to move around desks and chairs as needed. Workstations should also be adjustable, so that employees can stand up and sit down, as they desire, and still be able to get work done with ease. You should make it easy for employees to move furniture around as needed.
The ability to work from home. Speaking of flexibility, employees are looking for some in their schedules as well. Many companies―especially tech companies―are allowing employees to work from home at least on a part-time basis. Remote work allows employees to stay connected to the workplace, even if they are on vacation or unable to come to work for whatever reason.
Telecommuting is a huge perk for those with families since parents can work around their kids’ schedules or stay home and continue to work when they are ill. Some companies have one day each week when everyone gets to work from home. No meetings are scheduled, and everyone is free to enjoy the comforts of home. Some companies may prefer to allow remote work on a case by case basis, especially if some employees are not performing well or tend to goof off.
The ability to work outdoors. If your company doesn’t allow employees to work from home, then working outside is the next best thing. Millennials enjoy the opportunity to become one with nature. It reduces stress and improves productivity. Plus, being outside helps energize people and keeps mental and physical fatigue at bay.
A couple of plants randomly placed inside the office won’t do the trick. Instead, as a technology company, you can do your part by offering an outdoor area complete with a living wall and water area, like a stream or lake. Even a small pond with a waterfall can help create a relaxing environment.
If your office space doesn’t lend itself to an outdoor work area, you can grow a living wall indoors. You can also add large windows to allow more light to come in. An indoor pond area will be inviting to employees and offer an area for them to relax or focus intently on a project.
Raw and natural materials. Sustainability is a huge issue when it comes to creating a modern work environment. Furniture and décor made from recyclable materials are seeing their way into many modern offices. Many companies are also going for a raw look, bringing in furniture with wood countertops, rope, reclaimed siding, and unfinished steel. Some companies are even using old-fashioned Edison light bulbs to give their offices a vintage feel without making it look outdated.
The latest and greatest technology. A technology company should have the latest software and hardware so that employees can do their job. Surprisingly, many don’t. Budgets may be trimmed down, in certain areas, and, as a result, more money is spent elsewhere—which means some companies may focus so much on couches and bean bags that they overlook purchasing new inventory or desktop publishing software, making it difficult for employees to do their jobs effectively.
Don’t let technology take a back seat. Invest in things your employees need―and maybe even things they might not need but from which they could benefit, such as 3D printers and other cool equipment.
Digital filing. Speaking of technology, does your company still keep everything in hard copy format and file it away in folders? If so, it’s time to transfer everything to digital files. Employees won’t want to bother with filing papers the old-school way.
There’s no reason to hold onto papers. Everything can be scanned and put on the network so that employees can easily find these files when they need them instead of having to search through thousands of papers filed (or misfiled) in a cabinet.
Cloud-based computing eliminates the need for copying, printing, and filing. Just remember that proper labeling is still important, so, when naming files and folders, use a naming convention that’s easily understood. Once all your files are placed on the network, you no longer need that storage cabinet, so throw it out and use the space for more office furniture or some other necessity.
Satisfaction. When employees are satisfied with their jobs, they’re more productive. Therefore, employers should create workspaces with satisfaction and productivity in mind. Outlets―such as sports, video games, and massages―allow employees to recharge. Once the stress melts away, employees feel more refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges.
While many people may feel that some perks are over the top, technology companies are willing to make the investment in their people. Not all industries are like this, especially those where qualified individuals are a dime a dozen. However, in the technology field, attracting people is much easier than retaining them. Keeping them happy at the same company for more than a couple of years is the hardest part.
Trends to Avoid
Technology companies have tried every trick in the book to gain and retain fresh talent. While some ideas may seem fun and innovative, at first, they just don’t work in the long run.
Gimmicks. Some companies create perks that sound fun, but which don’t really contribute to the company culture. For example, some companies have treehouses. Sure, Google has a slide, but is it really a necessity? Perks like this may sound cool, at first, but these do little to keep employees focused. If the slide were to disappear, it’s doubtful that it would be a huge loss. Employees are probably focused on beneficial perks, such as free food and fully paid health insurance.
Too much open space without any constraints. While open space is good―and much better than being in a cubicle―sometimes there’s just too much. You need to have some privacy, especially for projects that require focus and communication with others.
Not enough focus on the furniture. Many companies fail to find a balance with the furniture. Some use bleachers and make the office look like a treehouse or stadium. Others use nothing but benches, which look cheap. Don’t necessarily focus on what you think is trendy. Get opinions from employees on what they consider comfortable. What would they want to sit in while they work?
Special offices for CEOs and executives. Don’t make it appear as though executives are special and treat them as such by giving them their own offices. If you choose an open layout, make everyone abide by it. CEOs should be part of a team, just like everyone else. By forcing them to sit with others, they are seen as more approachable and friendly. This vibe can really do wonders for morale and productivity.
Large technology companies that want to stay relevant―like Google, Facebook and Microsoft―can’t afford to settle for less than the best, in terms of their work environment and staff. They must stay ahead of the game in order to attract young talent. Those fresh out of college are expecting more out of employers, and a stuffy cubicle just isn’t going to cut it. Technology companies must reassess their current working conditions, often, and make sure they’re still considered a trendy place to work.
If employees find better opportunities elsewhere, they will take them. Loyalty is hard to come by. It’s no longer the norm for a person to spend their entire career at one company. Tenures of 30-40 years are being replaced by multiple positions lasting 5-10 years.
A customized strategy works best. Companies have the challenge of trying to make everyone happy―both new employees and older workers. On top of that, employees’ needs are always evolving. By bringing everyone together so they can collaborate more effectively, technology companies will poise themselves for success.