Some offices are fully embracing an environment-focused approach to office space. Is this worthwhile?

In a poll of 1,614 employees, researchers for the Harvard Business Review found that access to natural light was the number one sought after perk by job-seekers. Furthermore, the study found that “the absence of natural light and outdoor views hurts the employee experience.”

Keep in mind that other survey options were things like salary and health insurance, and natural light still came out on top. In this article, we’re not going to suggest we all take our businesses and move into glass houses. But there is a lot we can draw from this data. So, what does this mean for us?

Office Space and Culture

Unfortunately, we can’t all be Google. But recently, smaller companies started to integrate features they see working for larger Silicon Valley offices, such as a pleasant, inviting work environment, in order to help with recruitment and retention.

To get insight on this topic, we spoke to Kim Schultz of Acara Solutions. When she is assigned a new client, the first thing she does is visit their office to find out what kind of office environment she’ll be working with.

According to Kim, things like comfortable chairs, good lighting, and workable desk space are huge contributing factors to the culture of a workplace. She takes note of all these things when assessing what kind of candidate would fit well.

“Make the office space an inviting place that someone is going to want to come to work in every day,” said Kim. “It’s one of the easiest things to do.”

It’s something we all can sense when walking into an office - is it dark, cramped and dirty? Or is it fresh, bright and inviting?

To prove the point, we’re going to close our eyes, leave our present lives for a little while, and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Painting the Picture

Imagine yourself in the midst of a career transition, seeking a position in a collection agency office. You have heard how much money one can make in the industry, you are smart and quick on our feet, and you want to give it a try. So, you get in touch with the first one you find and call to schedule an interview.

You press your pants, rehearse your answers, update your resume and feel confident you’re ready. You show up 10 minutes early and as soon as you walk through the door, you’re concerned. It’s dark, it smells, the cubicles are cramped and outdated.

It’s not only unprofessional - it’s disconcerting. You think to yourself, “Where am I?”

The interview goes as well as it can, but your mind was made up as soon as you walked through the door.

You think to yourself, “This isn’t somewhere I want to be everyday. As much as I want to work in this industry, I know this environment is not right for me.”

And you turn down the position when it’s offered.

A Different World

You begin to seek out other opportunities in the debt collection space. Eventually, you find another agency closeby. You prepare the same way and hope for the best. This time, you walk in and it feels like a breath of fresh air. It's clean, organized, structured. 

You’re confident that the personnel will reflect the environment and think to yourself, “This is somewhere I want to be.”

Improving Your Office Space

Cosmetic changes that make a difference will range from a fresh coat of paint to hiring a cleaning service. It’s going to be a flat rate, one-time fee that will make a huge difference in the morale of your workplace, says Kim.

Let’s put the cost in perspective.

To give your office a face lift, you will need a couple things.

Cleaning Service

The most basic office cleaning service will cost somewhere between $30-$35/hour. You may decide you need them daily, a few times a week, or even less than that, depending. The investment, however small, will have serious payback. According to Clean Link, some experts say that the cleaning industry should be included under the umbrella of the healthcare industry, since cleaning plays such a vital role in keeping people healthy and productive.

“Commercial cleaning is really an investment. Sometimes you need to explain to executives — especially those in charge of finances — that maintaining a clean environment can pay for itself many times over — often in unexpected ways.”
Stephen Collins, founder and president of Stephco Cleaning & Restoration based in Holbrook, Mass.

Updated Office Appliances

Things like chairs, cubicle walls and computer monitors can, believe it or not, have a massive impact upon morale. It’s not just for morale, however. Outdated technology and appliances slow down your business, dragging down efficiency and productivity. Updated technology and office furniture means less maintenance and downtime. Essentially, your overhead costs will go down.

Conclusion

Hopefully we’ve made our case and you will consider how your office space plays more into recruiting than you may have originally thought. If you’re having trouble finding and keeping good people, consider investing into your office space. You might be surprised what happens.