In the world of office design, providing workers with choice and control over where and how they work is critical. Incorporating a variety of settings, styles and postures to choose from is essential to wellbeing and employee engagement.

Steelcase recently released “360 Steelcase Global Report: Engagement and the Global Workplace,” which surveyed over 12,000 people on ideas surrounding engagement, disengagement and the factors contributing to each. The results revealed some commonalities that send a powerful message about space and the implications of the physical work environment.

The most highly engaged and highly satisfied workers say they:

  • They can choose where to work in the office based on the task (88%)
  • Their company accommodates remote workers (90%)
  • They are able to move around throughout the day (98%)
  • They feel free to physically move and change postures (96%)

How Leaders Influence Choice + Control in the Workplace

Simply making these spaces available is only one component to a successful environment. Workers must also have control over their choices. That means leadership must model behaviors that make movement and migration acceptable during the workday. Modeling authenticity by choosing spaces that feel comfortable and natural is exemplified in startup culture and coveted by young professionals.

Giving workers control also depends on leaders and managers empowering their people to choose work destinations based on the task at hand. We know that focus work is much different from collaborative work, for example, and ideally, employees feel empowered to move to spaces that best support the work they’re doing, when they’re doing it.

Here’s why choice and control matter in the workplace:

1. Increased Engagement:

 The 360 Global Report found that of the most highly engaged and highly satisfied workers, 97% report enjoying the flexibility to move throughout their day, while just 13% of highly disengaged, highly dissatisfied workers say they’re able to do the same. Making it easy for people to find focus, stay comfortable and work in supportive environments has emerged as a key insight around engagement.

2. Postures Matter: 

Standing height tables and a variety of work surfaces encourage a change of postures, increase blood flow and impact creativity. Offering choice and control over postures not only keeps people on their toes, but may play a role in the kinds of ideas generated by your team.

3. Boost Collaboration: 

Let’s face it: collaboration doesn’t usually happen in cubicles. Providing a range of covetable ancillary destinations encourages project groups and innovation teams to move to new places on campus, increasing the odds that they’ll be inspired by their surroundings or the people they bump into on the way. Add elements from nature into these spaces for even greater impact.

4. Millennials Want Lounge Spaces: 

A 2014 Harris Poll revealed that 34% of GenY prefers to work in lounge posture during the day. Offering this option gives employers an edge in the competitive job market, while delivering the message that they trust their team to make decisions that best support their personal work styles and productivity levels.