Workplace Design and its Impact on Human Resources
Workplace Design
July 16, 2019

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_text]As a former regional HR Executive in a global, billion dollar organization, I’ve been exposed to my share of workforce-related challenges and opportunities. This is why I’m passionate about connecting my love of people and workplace design. I genuinely believe employees are inspired (or not) by the environment around them. As I journey through my second career in commercial design, I am able to help companies link the notion of a strategic-minded office environment to their people and business strategy.

How do you evaluate if a workspace is working or not?

For me, it’s the presence or cohesiveness that exists when entering a workspace. This means there is a clean and orderly environment that tells a story about the culture and products or services of the environment you’re in. For employers, they call me because they recognize teams aren’t working well together due to poor functionality or an increase in worker’s compensation claims due to poor ergonomics or safety hazards. Workspace plays a big role in critical team dynamics ensuring collaboration, smooth processes and strong results.

Focusing on the daily functionality of your work environment allows you to improve process and efficiencies delivering substantial savings. Deliberate design incorporates the way departments work together, for instance analyzing a manufacturing process can help cut production costs or studying the way a restaurant kitchen is utilized can reduce the number of times a dish is touched before it goes to a guest. Being aware of how departments work together and industry specific regulations aids in compliance with such regulations and also impacts cost effectiveness.

Consequently, in a poorly designed workspace many factors are at stake. First and foremost is safety –there must be adequate paths for exit, fresh air circulation and natural light, where possible. Additional considerations may include lack of privacy, employee discontent and difficulty with talent acquisition and retention.

How should senior leaders think about workspace design as it relates to their organization’s culture?

As a former HR Executive myself, I believe design should be a part of the strategic plan. If we think of our business as a whole, we identify different elements that contribute to its overall success. Employee well-being, safety, productivity and company branding can impact talent attraction and acquisition, employee morale and productivity, health and safety and retention. Each of these elements ties back in some way to the office environment and therefore should be given the proper resources to support the company’s most important asset.

Design also helps us differentiate from our customers – often before services are even provided. Your workplace shows your customers how your culture is different and can be an extension of your marketing plan. Organizations invest millions of dollars into continually evaluating and planning for ways to meet their customers’ needs overlooking inside their very own doors. When you deliberately design a space for the customers you are trying to attract you create an experience they remember. Customers enjoy sharing their experiences with friends. These personal endorsements become a powerful communication tool for your business.

What impact can a well-designed office have on employee recruitment and retention?

This audience in particular knows that motivated and engaged employees generally remain longer with organizations. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates it costs an average of 9 months’ salary to replace a salaried employee. For a manager making $40,000 a year that’s $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses! Potential hires are evaluating everything from your interview process to your work environment. For current employees, good design helps to instill a strong sense of company pride and improve your employees’ workplace experience.

Your business should reflect a space that cares for its employees. According to Dr. Noelle Nelson, a clinical psychologist and best-selling author of “Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy,” “When employees feel that the company takes their interest to heart, then the employees will take company interests to heart.” Perhaps they are seeking a private space to make personal phone calls or an additional white board to capture ideas generated in a meeting. You’ll never know by only guessing from your own office.

Organizational branding also plays a significant role in culture and employees’ emotional connection to their companies. A branded work environment is a continuous visual reminder of an organization’s belief in themselves and their products or services and one that stimulates an emotional connection with employees. Your people are your best marketing tool so creating an environment that supports the idea of your brand is your culture and your culture is your brand is a win/win proposition.

What is most exciting about designing workspaces in 2017?

Several key trends have emerged over the past year that been been really fun to incorporate. Organizations are asking to increase a sense of community within their space including casual, residential-like areas for employees to collaborate and furnishings that promote gathering like soft seating areas, larger, sit/stand height conference tables or movable walls to accommodate different sized groups.

Organizational identity and branding have played a major role in design this year. Smart companies are really buying into the importance of correlating the workplace with their HR strategies. Often times the organizational colors alone can add so much life to a space! Wellness also continues to be an important element connecting the workplace to wellbeing. According to a Gensler Study employees satisfied with the physical and performance factors of their workplace report higher energy levels when at work, and take fewer sick days than peers in underperforming environments. Connecting to the outdoors by using natural materials and patterns are meant to inspire and give a sense of well-being while plants provide a sense of peacefulness. Focusing on comfort includes thermal, acoustic, visual, and ergonomic criteria as well as consideration for ADA accessibility.

Next time the focus of your management meeting is business strategy, challenge your team to look inside your four walls. It’s here where you may identify some of your lowest hanging fruit to course correct or enhance the strategy you are trying to achieve.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container][fusion_global id=”2928″]

Jennifer Gaggion

Jennifer Gaggion


Jennifer Gaggion is a commercial interior designer regionally recognized for her innovative workplace solutions. She is committed to exploring your culture and custom-tailoring your work environment to positively impact your productivity and bottom line. Though her clients enjoy her abundant energy and style, it’s the value in her design solutions that keep them engaged at work on Mondays…and the rest of the week!


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KardasLarson is a human resources and business consulting firm that maximizes employee performance so people and organizations prosper.



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