Recruiting and retaining highly talented knowledge workers in today’s competitive technology industry job market is no longer assured by offering attractive salaries and benefit packages. One only has to look at the proliferation and growth of tech firms such as Airbnb, Google, Facebook, and others reported on Morningstar, Techcrunch, Inc., and other sites to get the message that tech workers are in demand.
Many of them are very fussy about the ambiance of where they will be working (in addition to an attractive salary and benefit package).
This fact has not gone unnoticed by organizations that study such matters.
For example, a 2012 article in bloomberg.com noted that tech startups are turning to office designs as a recruiting tool. “As tech startups expanding with new funding and rapid hiring, office designers are dreaming up creative spaces to contain them,” the article said, and citing Airbnb said the objective is to attract “the brightest engineers and giving them a comfortable home for late-night coding marathons.”
As another example, RTKL in its 2015 workplace trends report devotes a lot of ink to describing the importance of wellbeing (vs. wellness highlighted in its 2014 trends). The 2015 edition cited a study by the University of Oregon that said employee absences can be directly attributed to lack of views to the outdoors (our emphasis). It also noted the World Green Building Council’s finding that workers with access to daylight are 18% more productive. We touched on these issues in our post on The Many Benefits of Natural Light that cites additional sources for comments on the subject.
Collaborative Work and Heads Down Work
Teamwork, collaboration and brainstorming are important components in today’s technology-focused companies. Specially designed areas whether break rooms, cafeterias or conference rooms are ideal for these bull sessions where ideas are hatched, discussed, refined, adopted or discarded. But there is an equally important requirement to provide staff members with a place to get away from distractions and quietly think through what must be done to bring ideas to fruition.
Articles abound on workplace distractions and their effect on staff productivity.
For instance, a 2014 CNN Money article blamed noisy crowded offices as reasons why staffers can’t get work done. It reported that studies of IT and accounting workers by researchers at the University of California at Irvine found the employees switched their focus from one project to another on an average of every 10.5 minutes. And they were interrupted during more than half of their 10.5-minute project segments. The article cited a survey by AtTask, a company that creates project management software, where workers said close to half their week (46%) is spent doing things other than performing their primary job duties and attending productive meetings.
Correct office design accommodates both collaborative and distraction-free heads-down work. Done correctly office design can materially support recruiting and retaining highly talented knowledge workers.
The Recruiting Role of Demountable Glass and Dividing Walls
Demountable glass walls and dividing walls provide an excellent first impression when prospective employees come in for an interview. The “wow” factor can begin as early as the entrance and reception area where storefront glass provides a view into the entire facility from the building hallway. The beautifully furnished reception area is similarly separated from office areas by sparkling clear floor to ceiling glass panels with access via sliding or swinging glass doors equipped with sound seals. Accents can include company logos, digital images or decorative films on the glass walls to provide additional privacy and a more customized design.
Stepping into the office proper, the prospect is immediately struck by subdued noise levels – a sharp contrast to open office systems with little or no sound management. This is because ALUR floor-to-ceiling ½" tempered glass provides a 36 STC (sound transmission class) rating that renders normal speech inaudible. Corridor chatter does not distract staff members at their workstations; in-office conversations are kept private from passersby.
Further sound management is provided by ALUR demountable Dividing Wall with its 42 STC rating. Solid modular dividing walls fabricated of horizontal panels support office furniture elements including desks, shelves, bins, AV screens, tackboards and whiteboards. They are available in a variety of finishes and fabrics that add color and variety to the office design. Vertical wall elements have a solid look to separate individual work stations, conference areas or finish off a run of individual offices. Dividing walls are able to contain and conceal voice, data and power cabling systems. Interviews with company executives and potential co-workers can be conducted in private meeting rooms, collaboration rooms, a lounge area or the company cafeteria also constructed of ALUR demountable glass and dividing walls with their excellent sound management characteristics.
Design to Maximize Natural Lighting
Health and productivity benefits of natural lighting are well documented. When properly laid out workspaces constructed of demountable glass walls provide visual access to peripheral windows while solid demountable dividing walls are positioned perpendicular to natural light sources.
Consider too that comfortable office furnishings, plantings and artwork can add a final touch to convincing talented prospects that your company is interested in their well being and that it is sensitive to the needs of its staff.