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Building Employee Trust Through Office Design

By wizu | 30 June 2020

Managers know that building trust with employees is necessary in order to build a team. In fact, there are any number of methods available to help build trust between managers and employees. However, have you every considered using office design to build trust with your employees? 

If you answered “No” to that last question, then you’re not alone. This is often the last idea when it comes to increasing trust in the workplace. The way it works is that by giving employees control over their office layout, they’ll see you trust them to get the work done on their terms. Allowing them some freedom of the work environment helps employees become more productive and feel that they’re more a part of the team. 

Traditional Cubicle Nation or Open Spaces

Traditional cubicles were not pleasant. People sat isolated in their little cubicles, forced to work in a non-inspiring workspace. In fact, everyone’s workspace looked pretty much the same. Boring, dull and drab. 

Open spaces have also become dreaded by employees. With open spaces, there is no privacy, it can be noisy, and often just too chaotic for many people to get work done effectively. 

These traditional layouts gave employees no control whatsoever over their workstation or the work environment. Not only that, but the spaces were not inspiring. They were cookie cutter layouts meant to take advantage of every free inch of space. The more people, the better. But this isn’t the way many employees enjoy working. These older layouts left no room for people to be human. 

Instead of cubicles and open spaces, new office layout trends are letting employees take more control. 

Giving Employees Control of the Workspace

The modern office layout trends are taking advantage of making workspaces more comfortable for the humans that use them. Here is a list of trends that are helping managers build trust with employees, while also creating more comfortable, productive workspaces. 

1). Help employees feel at home: what better way to gain the trust of employees than by helping them feel comfortable. What could better than feeling as if they’re at home? While employees will need individual work areas, creating homey spaces can boost morale, while also adding a touch of inspiration and comfort. 

One idea is to make living room spaces for employees to gather in. These could include a comfy sofa and chairs, throw pillows, a rug on the floor, and some beautiful works of art (or posters) on the walls. Another popular idea is to create kitchen areas, where employees can gather and talk over the kitchen counter. 

These ideas create comfortable zones where employees can gather to talk about business, issues they need to work out and more. But they’ll feel more at ease and relaxed in spaces that resemble their homes. 

2). Give employees more privacy: the lack of privacy in some areas can really destroy productivity, employee morale, satisfaction and more. What better way to show employees they’re trusted than by allowing them to find private spaces. 

Open spaces can be great; however, they can also be noisy, overstimulating, make people feel they’re highly scrutinised and exposed. The lack of barriers can make employees feel overwhelmed in all ways. 

Instead, giving them areas of privacy can work to ease these feelings of overstimulation and more. For instance, some businesses have started providing privacy booths, something like the old-fashioned phone booth from years ago. If an employee needs to make an important call, or they become loud during the call, the privacy booth gives them the space to take the call and not worry about how loud they are, or worry about disturbing others. An employer offering private spaces, such as these, also shows they trust employees to use these spaces for work, or the occasional personal issue. 

Another option that is being used in many modern workspaces is to create quiet zones. Employees can use these rooms for work that takes more concentration or when they simply need a quiet space. Again, a business that provides such spaces demonstrates their trust in employees to get work done. In return, employees will trust managers, and feel more satisfaction in their work. And they’ll be more productive, as a result. 

3). Employees create their own workspace design: another way to show trust is to let employees decide what they need in the workspace, and how to design that space. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean everyone will have their own private office, or that you’ll need to worry about everyone decorating and painting their workspaces with hideous colours and décor. 

Instead, give employees control over how furniture is used or where it’s placed. This could mean the adoption of moveable workspaces and other elements. Some businesses have chosen to go with desks that are moveable and include other elements, such as walls, that are moveable. 

Moveable furniture and décor allow employees to pull desks together to have a meeting. A moveable wall could double as a whiteboard for planning. The sky’s the limit when you choose to go with moveable furniture and other décor elements. Employees in these types of workspaces often feel they have more control, resulting in increased levels of satisfaction and productivity. 

4). Flexible furniture and décor elements: these are also a cost-effective way to get more out of the office space, as well as the furniture. When a space can be changed into a meeting area, this could save money on the cost of creating a separate meeting room. Of course, each business is unique and may still require a regular meeting room. 

Even so, flexible furnishings that can do more and make more of the space is a great way to save on the budget. Plus, employees feel more energised and in control seeing the managers trust them to get work done in this flexible space. 

What builds trust more than when a business acknowledges their employees are humans? Designing an office layout that works for humans creates trust and provides a wonderful workspace where everyone can get more done and feel better doing it.

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