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Keeping it real with a ‘hierarchy of needs’ for the workplace

Spare a thought for the ping pong tables lying deserted and unloved in offices across the UK. Only 6 per cent of people said they value ‘quirky’ games as part of their experience at work.  Further, more than half (55%) of people said that these initiatives are distracting and decrease productivity, in a survey of 3,500 office workers carried out by Sage People.

In a race for the best talent, it’s not surprising that some companies have viewed office gadgets as a ‘quick win.’ But at a time of unprecedented political and economic challenge, now might be the time to consider going ‘back to basics.’ The reality is that no quirky initiative will ever compensate for an office which is freezing cold, with a poor mobile phone signal and with furniture which is no longer fit for purpose.

One expert in addressing humans’ fundamental requirements was the world-renowned philosopher, Abraham Maslow. He created a Hierarchy of Needs outlining the key elements every human needs to feel fulfilled – physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualisation. He argued that individuals’ most basic needs must be met before they become motivated to achieve higher level needs.

Almost 50 years on from his death, and in the same spirit of ‘keeping it simple,’ Offices iQ has applied the same model to offices creating the Offices iQ Hierarchy of Workplace Needs. Here are the key steps to keep staff happy while they work – either in a serviced office, coworking space, or traditional office environment.

A sense of belonging – The old adage says that Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast. We all want to feel part of something bigger, which comes from building genuine connections, and being accepted for who we are. There isn’t an ‘off the shelf’ solution – it takes work from every individual to accept colleagues for who they are – extroverts, introverts and everyone in between.  When we feel comfortable, we feel in control and masters of our own destiny. The most advanced businesses recognise that no office building can compensate for a bad culture. They invest in measures to develop a trusting, fun and productive environment.

Good Design/layout – First and foremost, an office space needs to support the operational needs of your business.  A tech start-up might well want access to collaborative working areas, hot desks, or social spaces like bars and cafes.  But that might not work for a firm of auditors, which needs maximum concentration and attention to detail, and work in a totally different atmosphere.  Noise levels are still one of the most common challenges, even in new workplaces, with an average satisfaction level of just 34%, according to a seven-year assessment of more than 275,000 workers in 67 countries, carried out by Leesman. the world’s leading independent assessor of workplace effectiveness. The same study found that the highest performing office projects place individual needs at the heart of the solution and wrap infrastructure around people’s requirements,

Organisations should maintain regular, open communications with staff to ensure you prioritise their needs and requirements in an office development to maximise productivity.

Light – All living beings need daylight – and dark – to function properly. Daylight regulates our circadian rhythms ensuring we are in tune with the earth’s rotation. Get it wrong, by exposing staff to glare or insufficient light, and your people will strain their eyes and take time off work.

In total 77% of employees said that natural light is important to them, but only 58% of people are satisfied with the amount of light in their workplaces in the Leesman research. Poor lighting is also a quick way to waste significant amounts of money. Up to 40% of a building’s electricity use goes on lighting* – with substantial opportunity to cut energy use and costs, according to a report by Serralux. It’s critical firms carry out proper desktop assessments to prevent staff from being affected by these issues.

Wi-Fi, Internet and Phone Network – Good business requires great communications. In an age of 24/7 connectivity, it’s hard to believe that some companies still struggle with Wi-Fi and phone signal.  Yet we’ve all seen offices where staff dash outside, or to specific ‘hotspots’ in order to make phone calls with customers.  Yes, we can all purchase signal boosters if needed – but it’s far better to have the right infrastructure in place to begin with. It’s critical that companies asses mobile phone signal and Wi-Fi strength before signing any office agreement

Air conditioning/temperature control – There is no legal maximum temperature for offices, but don’t worry, your staff will soon tell you when it’s wrong.  Drastically high or low temperatures, or sitting in a draught, can cause your staff to get sick or feel uncomfortable while at work – both of which will cause productivity to plummet.

Security – Nothing is more important than keeping your people safe – particularly amid the ever-present chance of terrorist attacks within high profile city centre locations. Having the basics in place such as door passes for staff, a visitors’ sign-in book and evacuation procedure is critical. Ensure that these measures are in place for outside of traditional working hours too, as flexible working sees people expect access to the office around the clock. Review security measures to make sure they match your organisation’s standards and can be enhanced if required.

Finding and creating the perfect office space is no easy task. Which is why so many businesses are following the example set by entrepreneurs and start-ups and opting for serviced office space – high quality environments with flexible leases. We recommend businesses focus on what they do best – and outsource this search for the perfect space to a third-party expert, who can scan the whole market and negotiate the best deal. And with the fundamentals taken care of, you’ll be a long way to creating a happy and harmonious workplace without the need for any gimmicks.

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