The social network

The social network

A new survey of workplaces indicates that employees across the board prefer places where they can socialize

What do workers want? Perhaps, Mondays to never arrive and weekends to last forever? Since that is not possible, there can always be some things which are important to keep the employees in good humour and in effect more productive.

What DO Workers Want?

People know what they don’t want at work — a sea of bland, uniform spaces where ideas go to die. In fact, a recent Steelcase study of global office workers found that although 77 per cent of people have their own assigned work station, the vast majority — 87 per cent — spend two to four hours every day working someplace else. So the question arises, why do people keep migrating away from their desks? What kind of spaces are they looking for? Is it as simple as adding some sofas and a barista bar to give people the kind of workplace they want? As it turns out, monotony is a huge motivator —just over half of people (51 per cent) say they need an escape from working in the same place during their day, whether they were alone or with others. They’re also seeking a deeper relationship with colleagues, and 43 per cent believe informal spaces can help build trust.

The survey shows the following:

  • 41 per cent people want informal, inspiring spaces for social connectivity
  • 47 per cent  want better ergonomics
  • 24 per cent want quiet spaces for privacy

Shalini Garg, a support functions  professional working with an MNC bank in Gurugram, says, “Common spaces are important to congregate at and socialise. It helps one know people better and in turn to tap into the strengths and address the weaknesses of the employees.”

The Age Factor

Both the younger and older generations are fond of informal space and use them regularly—but the purpose for which these are used, differs. Millennials are more likely to use dining/bar spaces to work while older generations use these spaces for collaboration and socialisation.

The millennials certainly agree. “Sitting at a round table where my co-workers also work in a room, done up in brighter colours, is a better way to collaborate over projects rather than individual cubicles. It fosters team work,” says Aryan Singh, a 20-something who has joined a food start-up.

The Cultural Shift

In China and India, people spend far less time at their primary workstation than in other countries. Organisations also appear to be more progressive and provide more informal spaces to their employees. The two countries also offer the lowest percentage of individually-owned workstations and the highest percentage of shared workspaces. This further promotes mobility in the workplace and people in these countries are more likely to seek out other spaces to work. Organisations in the United States and Germany appear to be more traditional and provide considerably more individually-owned workstations and in comparison organisations in India and China are more progressive and offer more shared spaces.

But even in the US there are exceptions where companies have tried to incorporate it in their work culture. A large brokerage firm in Los Angeles wanted to revamp their offices. The higher- ups in the company occupied large private offices and were seen as being prized and pampered.

The company leadership decided that if they were going to be more successful in the future, they needed to be more collaborative and work as a team. So it was decided that 25 per cent of the office space was to be used more smartly.

Ideas were tested and discussed and feedback was taken from the employees. At the end of the exercise, the company shifted away from an “entitlement” mindset  and the new space, while keeping in mind the work that each person did, created 16 different venues where employees could circulate.



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