Guest Blog: The relationship between employees and beautiful workspaces

As design professionals, it’s imperative that we understand what makes office workers productive and happy in their role and how the design of an office can play a part in employee job satisfaction. It is for this reason that we engaged a research firm to conduct a nationwide survey of office workers - the results were incredibly insightful.

We discovered a staggering 81% of New Zealand office workers believe the physical environment at their workplace has an impact on their happiness and job satisfaction and 9 out of 10 workers agree that if they are happy at work, they are more productive.

This result demonstrates that employees see a direct connection between their work environment and personal productivity and job satisfaction. Employee productivity has a direct link to the bottom line and by not having an inspiring office, is a lost opportunity in achieving the best from our workers.

The Spaceworks New Zealand workplace survey was conducted to ascertain whether office design can amplify a more efficient and valuable workplace and if clever design can support and inspire worker collaboration, innovation, creativity and productivity.

'Slide into the boardroom' at The Better Drinks Company

'Slide into the boardroom' at The Better Drinks Company

As the New Zealand economy continues to gain momentum and with the nonstop advances in technology, a new generation of workers are leading the charge on how workplace design should better support them. It is our job as designers to stay abreast of what’s important to Kiwi office workers so our designs are future-proofed and reflect the new way of working.

Interestingly, over three quarters of respondents are more likely to stay at their current company if they had an inspiring office to work in and almost 6 in 10 respondents stated that the office interior layout has a substantial impact on their decision to work for a company. However, only four in ten believe that their office is adopting new trends in the workplace design space, demonstrating a disparity between what Kiwi workers have and what they’d like.

According to Kiwi workers, the most important drivers of improving job satisfaction are having their own personal desk or space (91%), having good, even air temperature (90%) and having natural daylight utilised for staff members (85%). A dedicated in-house area to eat lunch also scored highly (73%).

Other important factors contributing to improving employee output was having an environment that encourages collaboration (86%), ergonomic furniture (82%) and quiet areas to break away from open plan (79%) and bookable meeting rooms (76%).

Breakout areas at Woods Engineering 

Breakout areas at Woods Engineering 

As designers it is our challenge to ensure an open plan office doesn’t result in lost productivity. The research shows that employees believe collaboration has a direct link to productivity and therein lies our conundrum. How does the design of an office promote teamwork and at the same time offer privacy?

Workplaces which are designed to encourage collaboration without sacrificing focus, will always be more successful. The solution is the new age open plan which factors in informal meeting/breakout spaces and areas away from the working zones where employees can focus and make phone calls.

It was also discovered that only 5 in 10 New Zealand office workers think their work space stimulates innovation and creativity.

The entrance area at BankStream

The entrance area at BankStream

We are a nation of innovative workers and entrepreneurs and there is so much untapped potential in many of our employees. By designing more offices which unleash greatness in all of us, we’d be producing far better work.

Innovation and creativity can be invigorated via a myriad of ways. Visually stimulating interiors with graphics, colours, textures and writable surfaces can amplify creativity as well as a variety of work settings, low seating, standing desks and brainstorming and collaborative zones, all create interest which in turn promote innovation.

The companies that encourage employees’ creativity and innovation by having an inspiring workspace will be ahead of the game both nationally and internationally. 

Guest blog thanks to Lizzi Hines - MD of Spaceworks

Spaceworks ranked number 28 on our Deloitte 2013 NZ Fast 50 index


Lizzi is the owner and Managing Director of Spaceworks Design Group. Lizzi still remains the lynchpin of the design team with her considerable experience in commercial, residential, retail and hospitality fit-outs. She’s passionate about design, colour and making spaces work the best they can for clients, plus she’s a stickler for details – her eye for detail is legendary among our clients.