Relevance of Office Environments in a Digital Working World

Relevance of Office Environments in a Digital Working World

In a working world that is becoming more and more digital and making work increasingly independent from time and space the question rises about the significance of the physical workspace. Is it still worth for companies to invest money into their office environments? The answer to this question is: Yes! It is definitely worth it!

Why this assertion is true I am going to prove based on the emergence of coworking spaces around the world and two research results.

Coworking Spaces – Structure and Community

With the rapid dissemination of the internet it became easier for companies to outsource and offshore their IT services. What followed was the establishment of many IT companies which offered their services to other companies as external partners. Not only big companies emerged from that but also a lot of single entrepreneurs and freelancers. Basically predestinated for working at home or in a café a lot of these lone fighters searched for a common work space.

Why? On the one hand because they were missing an organized work space that gave them structure for their work day and also offers a variety of possibilities to perform the daily work, e.g. in meeting rooms. On the other hand – and that’s for many of the people using a coworking space today the main reason to go there – they were missing a common work space where they could meet other people face to face, talk to each other and exchange knowledge. Brad Neuberg, an american software developer and one of the first coworking space operators, once made the following quote which puts this dilemma into a nutshell:

I could either have a job which would give me structure and community or I could be a freelancer and have freedom and independence – Why couldn’t I have both?

In view of this statement it is not a big surprise that in the past few years numerous coworking spaces were opened that offer workplaces including a necessary infrastructure (computer network, printers, scanners, fax machines, telephones, presentation technologies, meeting rooms, breakout spaces, etc.) that can flexibly be booked on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Between 2012 and 2013 the growth of coworking spaces made up to 30 percent – solely in Germany .

Satisfaction with the Office Environment and Employees’ Commitment to the Company

A little time ago Stepstone published a survey which showed that a good working environment and equipment are one of the most important factors for applicants when deciding to work for a certain company.

Something similar we have recently shown at the Fraunhofer IAO with our study »Office Settings«. There we asked our participants about their satisfaction with the office environment and also how strongly they were willing to engage for the company’s goals or how proud they were working for their company. The latter two question we combined to an Index named »Commitment«.

As one can clearly see from the depiction below, the average values for the Commitment are strongly rising related to the overall satisfaction with the office environment.

Satisfaction with the Office Environment and Employees' Commitment to the Company

Satisfaction with the Office Environment and Employees’ Commitment to the Company (p < 0,001)

In futher analyses we were able to determine that the satisfaction with the office environment significantly is related to wellbeing, motivation and also the self-perceived performance of employees.

Factors which influence the satisfaction with the office environment are besides furnishing and acoustics also the density of work places, the possibilities for recreation and rest or focus work.