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How office design can attract and retain talent

What does your office space say about you? 

Office design has a substantial influence on employee recruitment and retention. Particularly if you aim to recruit the hottest talent in your industry.

Millennials will make up the largest percentage of the global workforce by 2025. They value flexibility in where, when and how to work. If your company is recruiting new talent or investigating retention strategies, you’ll want to pay attention to what employees are searching for in a dream company.

Take a look at your office space. If a potential employee were to wander around, what would they see? What would the space say about your company? What might attract them to want to work there?

What do employees value?

Studies have linked the physical workplace to employer attractiveness and therefore successful staff attraction and retention. After salary, an attractive workplace culture was the most influential factor in determining whether an individual was likely to accept a job or not, followed by workplace design, and then technology.

According to a 2018 report on Human Capital Trends, “Employees want their workplaces to represent them and their values externally, as much as their own profile and social media presence does.” It also highlighted a profound shift facing business leaders in Australia and around the world: the rapid rise of social enterprise whereby businesses are prioritising their affect on the environment and community.

What are employees looking for in a workspace?

Balancing Privacy and Connection

Gone are the 70’s cubicle rows where workers isolated themselves for an entire workday. Employees are now looking for a variety of spaces to suit their needs; Quiet spaces, break out areas, collaboration rooms, technology hubs. They want flexible workspaces and recruiters will want to evaluate their environment to pinpoint how to provide these. Young employees particularly expect their workspace to have up-to-date technology, video conferencing rooms and interactive media. Technology hubs can be a major drawcard when recruiting from the talent pool. Being within a connected environment is as important to employees in their work life as it is in their private life.

Designing for All Employees

While Millennials will make up a large proportion of workers in the foreseeable future, there are still other generations to consider when designing office spaces. Each demographic brings a different set of expectations and needs to their work situation. A Senior Level Executive will have different requirements and expectations than an entry level employee. Designers are now being asked to cater for a variety of work situations and age groups all in the same workspace.


A hybrid of work and home, Thirdspaces are cafes, lounges, outdoor seating areas, or casual lobbies that help create a workplace experience where employees feel comfortable in non-traditional spaces. Covid-19 has emphasised that we do not need to sit at traditional desks to be productive. Designers should engage a flexible mindset when attracting employees.


With more emphasis than ever on sustainability and social enterprise, employees look favourably on a company that is environmentally aware and designs a space to reflect those values. They are looking for green spaces, fresh air, recycled products, natural light, and recycled water systems.

Ability of employees to exercise personal control

Studies have shown that employees are more engaged and productive if they have some control over their environment such as light, temperature and sound. Screens on windows, temperature controls accessible in specific areas, and quiet spaces are some ways to address how employees can control their comfort level. If you want to keep your best people, they need to feel connected to your company and comfortable in your workspace.

By investing in a positive environment for employees, companies make a long-term commitment to their staff to provide spaces that are flexible yet productive, allowing for longer and healthier relationships with their employees. Ask their opinions about design aspects, and how they see the space. An invested employee is more likely to stay with the company.

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