Harken back to childhood and try to picture your first house, the one you grew up in. You might remember a first birthday party, or your parents cooking your favorite meal. That house despite it being an otherwise unremarkable collection of drywall and old wood paneling is deeply associated with very specific emotions and memories. Subtly in their minds, American employees are forming the exact same emotional connections with their workspaces. Modern employees are “using space to compartmentalize their lives,” and in order for them to reach their full potential we must provide as many novel work experiences for them as possible.
Employee engagement and teleworking
In 2013, the good folks at the American Time Use Survey asked people a simple question – how and where do you spend your time? Each day we spend 8.7 hours at work, 8.8 hours asleep and the next highest response was sports and leisure combining for a measly 2.5 hours. Our lives are dominated by two spaces. The key to engagement and peak productivity is finding creative ways incorporate novel and communal spaces to the average workday.
A third place in the life of today’s employees appears in many different ways: working from a coffee shop, taking company field trips, or attending trade shows. Nicknamed the ‘Kinko’s Generation,’ a whopping 30 million employees reported working from somewhere other than their desk, home or office building.
As much as some of us love our homes and offices, they can become monotonous over time. Third spaces, where social interaction and novel experiences tend to take place are how we prefer to define “who we are and what we do.” A workplace containing opportunities to work in different settings is especially important to highly educated members of today’s creative class representing today’s top scientist, engineers, writers, and programmers.
Google is an excellent (albeit over the top) example of a company that understands the importance of working in a wide variety of settings. Strolling across their campus you might encounter their on-site bowling alleys, giant spherical lounge chairs, or even their bike share. Companies without Google’s billion dollar revenue stream cannot begin construction of an onsite multiplex anytime soon, but the underlying philosophy is important for CEOs, managers, and employees to understand. Variety is the spice of life, and to attract and retain terrific employees employers should be advised to create ways for their employees to extend beyond their offices on occasion. Despite popular belief, data demonstrates that movement outside the office supports productivity.
During the adoption phase of the buyer’s journey, consumers turn to their ‘gut’ or rely on the way they feel about a product or a sales team. Employees aren’t profoundly different in their thinking about employers – so think about the physical spaces your employees are working in, it matters more than you might think.
About the Author
Jeff Ford is a co-founder of Perks and was the original architect of Perk’s SaaS incentive solution. Since the inception of the company, he has spearheaded the direction of everything from IT to Operations to Finance. He is passionate about technology and how the web has truly changed how we work and motivate our employees, partners and customers. Jeff’s background, prior to Perks, was spent as a solution architect, web developer and as a controller in the distribution and logistics industry. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, from the University of Central Arkansas. He brings his dog Xee to work every day and considers himself lucky and proud to be a part of such a great team.More Content by Jeff Ford