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Exploring PAR: Productivity, Acquisition, and Retention in Workplace Design


At Spaceworks, we’ve observed first hand how workplace design impacts employee productivity, job satisfaction, and business success. In this first edition of our series on key workplace design trends, we delve into PAR—Productivity, Acquisition, and Retention. These pillars are crucial for any business aiming to excel in today’s competitive landscape.

Enhancing Efficiency and Engagement

Productivity is closely tied to the design of the physical environment, where efficient and effective workspaces play crucial roles. Workplace design isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a finely balanced blend of form and function, creating an environment that encourages and motivates productive behaviours. From our extensive research and project experience, it’s clear that employees want to feel successful in the office, and part of that success is having the ability to complete work and make tangible progress. According to Gensler’s 2023 Workplace Survey, well-designed workspaces can boost productivity by 20%. This improvement comes from reducing both physical and cognitive barriers that impede work processes. It requires a considered approach to spatial planning, analysing individual needs alongside company requirements, enabling people to have the space they need to accomplish their tasks.

The rise of hybrid work models has added a layer of complexity to productivity. The integration of both remote and in-office work necessitates spaces that are adaptable and technology-enabled, supporting seamless transitions between different modes of work. CBRE’s “Future of Work Survey” indicates that 85% of employees feel more productive with the flexibility offered by hybrid environments. Such designs cater to various work styles, allowing employees to choose the best setting for the task at hand—whether it’s a quiet corner for focused work or a collaborative space for team brainstorming.

The challenge of enticing employees back to the office, despite the productivity many experienced while working from home, remains significant. While remote work has demonstrated its viability, it often lacks the community, connection, and mentoring that bringing people together provides, especially for junior staff. To achieve the desired productivity levels, workplaces must mimic the deep work conditions available at home while addressing the drawbacks of open-plan offices. We are now witnessing a shift towards more built spaces that support focused work and facilitate online meetings, reflecting a need to balance privacy and collaboration.

Energising workplaces can also significantly enhance productivity. Leesman’s research indicates that engaging work environments can lead to a 25% increase in productivity. This speaks to the importance of aesthetics as well as functionality. Incorporating elements like biophilic design, which brings nature into the workspace through plants and natural light, can boost well-being and creativity. Creating community hubs—often centred around kitchens or breakout areas—fosters connection and a sense of belonging, acting as the heartbeat of the business. These stimulating and engaging spaces are essential for maintaining high levels of productivity and employee well-being. By designing environments that combine functionality with inspiration, we create settings that not only support but also enhance the work experience, driving success for both individuals and organisations.

Attracting Top Talent through Design

A well-designed workplace is a major drawcard for prospective employees. It’s not just about looking good—it’s about creating a space that truly reflects your company’s culture and values, showcasing a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and employee well-being. Research by CBRE shows that 78% of millennials consider the quality of the workplace a key factor when choosing where to work (CBRE, “Millennials and the Workplace,” 2022). This highlights the importance of workspace aesthetics in conveying your company’s ethos and whether it fosters a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Sustainability is another crucial consideration for many professionals assessing potential employers. According to Deloitte’s 2023 Sustainability Survey, 64% of professionals prefer to work for companies with strong sustainability commitments. This preference reflects a growing awareness of environmental issues and a desire to join organisations making a positive impact. Incorporating sustainable design elements, like recycled materials, energy-efficient systems (including lighting and air conditioning), natural light and ventilation, and biophilic features, not only reduces your environmental footprint but also appeals to eco-conscious talent.

In addition to aesthetics and sustainability, incorporating key design elements that enhance productivity is pivotal in acquiring top talent. Employees are attracted to workplaces where they can see themselves being effective and supported in their roles. Space optimisation, which involves creating flexible and efficient layouts, plays an impactful role here. Offering a variety of workspaces—quiet areas for deep focus, collaborative zones for teamwork, and adaptable spaces that can shift based on task requirements—demonstrates that the company understands and values different working styles. This adaptability not only supports current employees but also signals to potential hires that the company is committed to providing an environment where they can thrive and be productive.

Keeping Talent with Thoughtful Design

We all appreciate how costly it can be to onboard new employees, the training, the acquisition along with the time it takes for them to be up to speed with your company needs. Retention of good people is the ultimate success pillar when designing a workplace. This is all about crafting an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and motivated to stay. A well-designed workplace can significantly impact retention by addressing key elements such as employee well-being, mentorship, community, culture, and sustainability. JLL’s research indicates that 87% of employees value a well-designed workspace that meets their needs, which greatly influences their decision to remain with a company (JLL, “Employee Retention and Workspace Design,” 2023).

Mentorship-driven design is a concept brought to the light post covid where it was identified that worked from home limited the growth of team members that relished in a mentor /mentee environment. Spaces that facilitate mentorship and interaction foster a culture of learning, development, and continual progress, which ultimately can lead to career and role progression. The empowering of employees and growing their ability supports the businesses ability to excel and capitalise on the drive and passion of individuals. According to Harvard Business Review, 67% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that supports mentorship (Harvard Business Review, “Mentorship in the Workplace,” 2023).

Building a strong sense of community within the workplace further helps retain talent by creating a supportive and engaging environment. This can be easily supported through workplace design with the addition of Community hubs and places of socialisation and connection. Often these are centred around kitchens or breakout areas, they act as the heartbeat of the business, encouraging informal interactions and fostering a sense of belonging.

A report by LinkedIn suggests that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with a company that fosters a strong community (LinkedIn, “Community and Retention,” 2023).

By strategically designing your workspace, you can enhance productivity, attract top talent, and retain employees, creating an environment that reflects your company’s values and supports its growth. At Spaceworks, we are dedicated to helping you develop workspaces that not only look great but also serve as powerful tools for business success. Stay tuned for the next edition in two weeks, where we will explore The Feels: Wellness + Well-being, focusing on designs that nurture mental and physical health, balance wellness and well-being, and create magnetic and energised workspaces.

Here’s some practical application ideas;

    1. Optimise Space Utilisation:
      Regularly audit space usage and repurpose underutilised areas to enhance functionality and adaptability.
    2. Support Hybrid Work:
      Equip offices with high-quality video conferencing facilities and flexible spaces to accommodate both remote and in-office work.
    3. Create Magnetic Workspaces:
      Design to create vibrant and inspiring environments. Don’t be afraid of colour and texture, away with everything beige.
    4. Prioritise Sustainability:
      Implement sustainable low carbon, low waste materials and energy-efficient systems. Use Spaceworks Carbon Calculator to complete a forward thinking low carbon design.
    5. Foster Employee Well-being:
      Incorporate wellness rooms, fitness facilities, and spaces for mindfulness should your space allow.
    6. Encourage Mentorship:
      Design open meeting areas and collaborative zones to facilitate spontaneous interactions and mentorship.
    7. Build Community:
      Create communal areas for informal interactions and social activities. Use design elements that foster a sense of belonging.

Contact Spaceworks – Jana Stringer, or Bradley Keys, to have Spaceworks show you how these would be integrated into your business and space.