Creative office space is all the rage these days, but did you know behind the modern perks and open layouts is a genuine increase to efficiency that EVERYONE in an industrial workplace can benefit from?
In an attempt to attract and retain younger workers with the technological skills to fuel growth of today’s tech sector, companies around the world are offering up all manner of workplace innovations.
Polished concrete floors, open ceilings, splashes of bright color, free food, free beer, foosball and ping-pong tables, living room style common areas and flexible work hours are just a few of the perquisites on offer for workers these days. The entire list is too long to post here.
Times change and priorities change with time, so many see the creative office space craze as an organic phenomenon that is a logical response to the ever younger pool of workers. For them the benefits are in plain sight, but their employers also see this trend as a way to save on occupancy cost. Creative space comes with fewer private offices and more open spaces that allow for higher employee density. In the good old days (let’s call that the 70’s and 80’s), roughly 3 to 4 employees occupied each 1,000 square feet of space. It’s not unusual today to see that ratio two to three times higher.
That shift is, in large part, due to changes in communication technology that allow workers to be more mobile within the workspace, but also to work effectively outside the workplace altogether. Today’s generation is pretty much turned off to grinding away in a cube all day, staring at a computer screen or shuffling paperwork. They just don’t have the patience for it and they are more inclined to change employers to find the optimal work environment. They are buoyed by the knowledge that there are now more job openings than there are workers to fill those slots. It’s no secret that finding good employees is a big problem that is getting bigger every day.
What does all this have to do with the industrial work environment with its wide variety of uses, processes and areas of specialty? After all, the office workplace is much more homogenous than its industrial counterpart. Space utilization for industrial applications is far more specialized in the world of making products and delivering services in the field than it is for writing computer code and processing mountains of data. We think the simple answer is summed up in one word: efficiency.
The efficient industrial business is one that has well-trained experienced workers who know how to get the job done, however that job is defined. That comes down to keeping good people that the business owner can count on day-in, day-out. While the exact cost of losing a key employee is difficult to quantify accurately, it is significant, no matter what line the business is in.
So, what can you do to enhance the quality of your workplace to make it a better place for your employees?
The answer is not as simple as stuffing the refrigerator with Hot Pockets, kambutcha and organic yogurt, but there may be some simple things you can do to let your people know they are appreciated. Just having a place to relax with fellow workers might be a good first step. Fresh paint, new artwork and comfortable seating in your break room can go a long way. If you have space for it, outside seating with good shade can also give your employees a welcome change of scenery for breaks and lunch time. That may encourage them to bring lunch instead of wasting time in traffic and standing in line at their favorite sandwich shop.
If you have space for people to congregate, it may be a good idea to host a meal now and then or surprise your crew by ending a shift a little early to share some refreshments before everybody heads home to their families. We have been doing this at Voit for years and we think it adds to the culture that our company is known for in our industry. We believe that the more that our people feel appreciated, the more effort they will make to contribute to the company’s success. That’s a win for everyone.
Only you know what will work for your business because only you know the value of each employee and the potential consequences of losing them to another employer. So, maybe this is a good time to walk your space and look at it with a fresh eye for what can be done to make it a better place for your employees who spend what amounts to a third of their lives.
You might just find some simple and inexpensive ways to make your workplace a better place to be. If you do, it might just be one of the best investments you can make. If you need to make a move soon to accommodate your growth, this is the perfect time to build in improvements to your workplace that will help you recruit and retain your most precious asset, your people.