As modern work evolves, so do modern workplaces. The office of the past (think cubicles, monochromatic color schemes, and lurid fluorescent lighting) is quickly going out of style. The new standard is an office that promotes and fosters employee engagement and productivity, helping to keep employees around for the long-haul. In the era of high millennial turnover, optimizing your office space with the goal of maximizing employee retention is a more significant move than ever. Additionally, the office can be a great recruiting tool—when potential employees come to interview, their first impression of the space can heavily influence their interest in working for your company.

Pioneering this transformation is the tech industry. Tech companies have a reputation as innovators, continuously seeking to identify things that don’t work and revamp them. In this case, they’re taking outdated office design conventions and refreshing them to maximize employee wellness.

While many of these new tech office concepts can get a bad rap (do you really need nitro cold brew on tap to make your employees happy?), there are meaningful changes that you CAN adopt. These changes will go a long way in terms of showing your employees you care about their success, comfort, and well-being. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list below of tech office space tips that any company can follow.

Find the right balance between openness and privacy

In a move to eliminate the social division fostered by cubicles, tech companies transitioned in droves to open office layouts, with the goal of fostering more collaborative teams. This design has notoriously posed problems: namely, that open office plans lead to sensory overload, making it harder for employees to get work done.

To combat this while still benefiting from the interactiveness that open offices provide, set up office partition panels between desks that give employees both visual and acoustic relief from a noisy office. Additionally, designate quiet spaces around the office that employees can head to when they really need to zone in.

Improve your office lighting

Harsh fluorescent lighting is more than just unpleasant—it negatively impacts alertness and productivity. If your office has good natural lighting, leverage it! If not, swap out fluorescent bulbs for lensed-indirect lights, which have been shown to be optimal for eye health and productivity.

Be forward-thinking and flexible

Flexibility is crucial for growing businesses who may not have a clear picture of how many employees they’ll have by the end of the year, or what their budget will be. This is especially important for small companies in expensive markets—office space in New York City, for example, can be highly expensive, making proper financial planning vital. Instead of getting locked into a typical 5-to-15 year commercial lease for a space that may not suit your needs in a matter of months, opt for a short-term lease. Though these may be more expensive month-to-month, the flexibility a short-term lease affords will be worth it as your business scales. You don’t want your employees stuck in a space they’ve grown out of.

By using these tips to frame how you think about your office space, you’ll be keeping the best interests of your employees in mind. This can contribute to solidifying your company culture, recruiting top talent, and having an engaged, productive team.
Viveka Krishnaswamy is with SquareFoot, a commercial real estate technology firm dedicated to finding the perfect office space for businesses as they evolve. Based in New York City, SquareFoot uses smart tools to aggregate listings throughout the US and Canada.

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