A new piece from Business Insider features the extensive office design workplace pilot Zurich North America has implemented to inform its new headquarters which will open in 2016. As part of the workplace pilot, more than 150 employees spent three weeks testing each of four uniquely configured office neighborhoods. The employees split time between individual workstations and shared spaces throughout the pilot floor and experienced different styles of desks, chairs, enclaves, conference rooms and informal meeting spaces that could be potentially incorporated into the future headquarters.
The Business Insider article focused specifically on the feedback and metrics Zurich has gathered from its efforts. Five key themes identified included:
- Employees did not like casual furniture – Any furniture that was too casual – think a couch or a table with chairs that you’d see in a home – was not seen favorably. Instead, it was viewed as a hindrance to the ability to get work done. This was true for all generations of employees, despite the common misconception millennials prefer more casual workspaces.
- Employees wanted more social hubs – These spaces include a kitchen and an area for eating together or chatting, separate from areas designated for working. Employees liked having an area of respite, where their chatter or the smell of their tuna sandwiches wouldn’t distract their colleagues doing serious work.
- Employees appreciated private enclaves – These are private spaces designed for individual, “in-the-zone” work. People can also use these areas for conference calls or small meetings. Employees liked having a balance of spaces for collaboration and individual work.
- Employees loved natural light – In the new HQ, there will be views of nature as much natural light as possible.
- Employees wanted sit/stand desks – With these workstations, you can push a button to vary the height of your desk so that you can either sit or stand while working. The many employees who used these mechanisms said that when they varied their posture, they worked more efficiently.
Other key findings not included in the Business Insider story included:
- The average time people spent waiting for responses decreased 62%
- 64% of those involved said communication with their group had improved after working in the pilot settings
- Satisfaction with flexibility to use different spaces over the course of a day increased 64%