Workplace amenities have come a long way over the years, evolving from vending machines and break rooms to fully stocked coffee bars, on-site gyms and game rooms where employees can let off steam. Some companies offer dry-cleaning services, childcare and catered lunches, while others tout chair massages and nap pods where workers can catch a quick power snooze. Though these kinds of office perks can be a great way to communicate the culture and values of a company, the amenities that make the biggest difference to employees contribute towards their productivity.
Workplace Amenities That Support Work Habits
Research from global design and architecture leader Gensler shows that the most effective amenities are those that directly support the work habits of employees and their teams. Employees surveyed by Gensler ranked amenities that reflect their business and expertise, while also offering a variety of spaces that allow them to work where and how they like as the most meaningful to them. Here’s a look at seven workplace amenities that can make your office more productive:
1. Innovation hubs.
Communal workspaces that encourage collaboration, conversation and camaraderie rank among the most popular amenities, especially for employees in creative and tech-focused industries. These open spaces create the perfect setting for informal meetings, brainstorming sessions or simply shooting the breeze with colleagues. With a mix of tables, chairs and more lounge-like areas, they are designed to bring teams together to share ideas, interact and get to know each other better.
2. Outdoor workspaces.
Research shows that working in environments with natural elements, such as sunshine, fresh air, plants and water features, can boost creativity, productivity and well-being. That’s why some companies are starting to invest in spaces that allow employees to take their work outside when they need to decompress or recharge. Whether it’s a rooftop lounge, cafe-style tables on a patio or a covered picnic table that blocks the sun and rain, outdoor workspaces offer a welcome respite for workers who need to escape the confines of the office for a few hours.
3. Focus rooms.
Though many employees prefer open workspaces, they also crave enclosed spaces where they can concentrate, find privacy when they need it and do more intense, deadline-oriented work without distractions or interruptions. Employees in open offices with access to focus rooms and other spaces designed for individual work report higher satisfaction than those without them. From quiet rooms to secluded spots partitioned off with freestanding screens, spaces like these give workers a place where they can huddle in small groups to discuss a project or retreat without completely isolating themselves from everyone else.
4. Work cafés.
Thanks to Starbucks and the independent coffeehouse trend, cafes have become hot spots for working, catching up on emails and networking. In many companies, work cafés are the new break rooms. Not only do they give employees a place to get caffeinated when the afternoon slump hits, but they also offer a change of scenery, allowing them to work away from their desk without leaving the office entirely. Incorporating elements from hospitality and coworking spaces, work cafés are conducive to individual and collaborative work, impromptu meetings and casual chats with co-workers.
5. Phone booths.
Many offices are bringing back old-fashioned phone booths—but with a twist. Today’s versions are powered, ventilated booths with sound blocking and absorbing capabilities that deliver state-of-the-art acoustics and sleek comfort. These single-person booths provide employees with a quiet, private space where they can do Skype calls with clients or make personal calls that they want to keep confidential.
No longer just a quiet room filled with floor-to-ceiling shelves of books and journals, the office library has morphed into a center of discussion, interaction, and digital and social media. Along with a conference table, many come equipped with cushy chairs, space for beverages and snacks, and plenty of outlets for conference calls and digital presentations. These touches aim to put employees at ease and inspire more engagement and productivity.
Amenities with a non-work focus like lounges showed the least impact on employee experience at work, according to the Gensler survey. But when incorporated into an open office atmosphere, lounges can provide employees with pockets of calm within a bigger, more chaotic setting where they can connect, relax and regroup. Comfy sofas and armchairs accented with a couple of drink tables and plants offer an inviting alternative for employees eager to get out of their cubicles or stuffy conference rooms for a little while.