Employer Branding

Why Office Design Should Matter to HR Professionals

You would think that office design would only be something that facilities management would be concerned with. But as it turns out, office design is hugely important to HR professionals as well. This is because the space in which employees work has an impact on both the recruitment process and how well people perform in their respective roles.

Office designs are evolving. Businesses are starting to see how detrimental the open-plan office is to productivity, team morale, and employee well-being. For HR professionals to truly excel in their careers, they should work to find effective solutions to these sorts of issues. And this means making office design a top priority.

Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why office design matters for HR.


Office design affects recruitment. The office design company K2 Space published a survey showing that nearly half (48%) of respondents agree that the room in which they’re interviewed in would have an impact on whether or not they would accept a job offer. This figure also changes depending on the industry. It increases for medical and health services (69%), sales and marketing (57%), and finance and accounting (53%).

The research also highlighted that nearly a third (30%) of respondents thought their current office was out-dated, drab, and in need of change. Again, this figure changes for specific sectors. It rises for hospitality and leisure (45%), media and sales (40%), and legal (37%). Respondents identified particular issues relating to office design, including:

  • A lack of natural light
  • A lack of access to quiet areas for lunch, reading, and downtime
  • Blandness
  • Not enough privacy for calls, virtual meetings, and working without distractions

It would be a shame for HR to find the perfect candidate for a role, only for that candidate to be put off when they are shown around the office. A noisy, crowded, smelly open-plan office could be reason enough for anyone to turn down a job offer.

Attracting and retaining the best talent is crucial for any company’s success. So HR should ensure that candidates get a good impression of the office they could potentially be working in for years to come.

Employee Engagement

HR professionals are constantly trying to figure out how to boost employee engagement. This is because employee engagement is inextricably tied to productivity levels and staff retention rates.

Office design is highly relevant in any discussion about levels of engagement in the workplace. But for HR professionals to offer employees an office space that will keep them engaged, they need to ask workers what they want out of their work environment. For example, employees may want good coffee, space, and resources that help them do their job, quiet zones, a café, and an abundance of breakout areas.

HR professionals should pay attention to the needs of employees and find an office design that works for everyone. Having clearly defined areas for privacy deeply focused work, and collaboration is vital. This will ensure that employees can be as engaged as possible in the day.

Employee Performance

One of the main tasks of an HR professional is to implement a strategy that will enable employees to perform at their best. This means improving behaviors that are linked to performance, including communication, productivity, efficiency, collaboration, and creativity. Of course, training and development initiatives play an important role in employee performance. But office design matters too.

As a case in point, the placement of each department can have a substantial effect on employees’ ability to collaborate effectively. HR professionals, therefore, need to think about which departments need to be close to each other and which ones don’t. Creating space for spontaneous collaboration can also be beneficial.

HR professionals could benefit by looking at some of the research on how certain office design features influence productivity. For instance, a study from the University of Exeter showed that introducing office plants boosted workers’ creativity levels by 45% and productivity by 38%. Having plants in the office can also reduce stress and improve employees’ mood and ability to concentrate.

Employee Wellbeing

The ability of plants to improve our mood is something HR professionals should think about. After all, there is an undeniable link between mental health in the workplace and productivity levels. We also know that a major factor in employee well-being is the environment in which they work. A noisy and hectic work environment with a lack of privacy may be a major cause of stress for employees, leading to worsened mental health over time. In contrast, certain aspects of office design can help enhance employees’ mental health, such as:

  • Privacy
  • Access to natural light
  • Air quality
  • Quiet
  • Workplace density
  • Having a standing desk

Well-being in the workplace should be one of the top priorities in any HR strategy. If the work environment is harming employees’ mental health, then this will lead to reduced productivity, focus, morale, and satisfaction, along with more days lost to ill health and higher turnover rates.

If HR professionals pay closer attention to workplace design, they can ensure that employees view the company office as a place conducive for work, rather than somewhere they dread going to each day. Let’s not forget, employees are the backbone of every business. And the long-term success and growth of a company depend on how well HR can look after the needs and preferences of employees. This is why HR professionals should find out what employees want in an office and then work that research into their HR strategy.

About the author:  Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships and graduate jobs. He is particularly interested in self-development, psychology, mental health, and the future of work. Most of all, though, Sam is passionate about helping people find work that is meaningful and fulfilling. You can follow him on Twitter.

By Ella Patenall

Inspiring Interns & Graduates is the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, based in London. Since 2009, they’ve placed over 7,500 candidates and worked with 3,000 companies.