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Unappealing office space makes attracting and retaining talent harder for SMEs

Workplace design is hindering Britain’s SMEs when it comes to attracting and retaining the best talent.

More than two thirds (68%) of SMEs business owners said their current workplace is limiting engagement with employees and their ability to retain the best talent. With business owners in London (75%) the most concerned about this.

It isn’t just the ability of companies to retain the best talent that is concerning business owners, but their ability to attract the best people too.

Half expressed concern that their current workspace is failing to attract the best candidates to work at their organisation. Again, it is business owners in London (67%) that are most concerned, followed by almost half (49%) in the North West and 42% in the South East.

Interestingly, it is owners of businesses with a higher turnover who are most concerned about attracting talent:

  • 83% of businesses with a turnover of £50 million or more are concerned
  • 57% of firms with a turnover of between £1 million and £10 million showed concern
  • 37% of companies with a turnover of £1 million or less expressed concern

What can SMEs do to increase engagement and boost attractiveness?

A hybrid office design can help to increase engagement with employees and boost productivity, as well as attract new talent.

The design principles are based on providing a more balanced working environment with open, flexible areas to interact and be creative with colleagues; alongside quieter, closed spaces for confidential matters and relaxation.

How do you design an office?

Whilst office design has come a long way, from cramming in as many desks as possible to where it is now; there is still clearly a long way to go.  Business owners must engage their employees in the design of their workspace to ensure their opinions are considered. They must also engage with their landlord and take advantage of their lease deal to make improvements to their office space. If the landlord is making improvements to the overall building, SMEs should speak with the landlord and ask if adaptions can be made to their workspace off the back of the project. For example, requesting changes to the floorplates or new lighting and ventilation systems.

How to implement a hybrid office design

  • Centre the office design around employee experience – listen to what employees want and what potential employees expect from a workplace in your industry sector
  • Create a unique working environment that will work both now and in the future – do not follow office design trends if they don’t meet your needs
  • Provide more areas for agile working. Think about implementing cloud technology to enable employees to work from anywhere
  • If you have a mobile workforce, ensure there are ‘keep in touch’ days when everyone comes together to work or socialise.

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