Owning Your Workspace


This month, Cubicles Office Environments is excited to have a guest writer on board. Susan Koole Huls from Herman Miller weighs in below on the topic of employee satisfaction and cubicle customization.

“Physical space matters,” writes Alexander Kjerulf also known as The Chief Happiness Officer. He adds, “Many companies have buildings that are sleek, modern, architectural glass-steel-and-cement sculptures on the outside–and cubicle wastelands on the inside. These companies need to remember that most employees tend to work inside the building.”

This idea resonates throughout the Herman Miller research summary called,“It’s All About Me: The Benefits of Personal Control at Work.” It notes that companies will gain a competitive advantage if they view the workplace as a strategic asset. It’s a tool that can optimize employee performance and improve satisfaction.

Having some control over the workspace can improve comfort and the ability to get work done and reduce stress. This can lead to greater productivity and better health. Having some control also allows people to “own” a workspace, which gives others a sense of who they are.

“Workplace control begins with the person taking ownership of the space,” says Betty Hase, Workplace Strategist for Herman Miller. “Workers who never take ownership feel like victims of their environment.”

She’s found that workers have a greater sense of control when they go through an orientation to their workstations and learn how to adjust chairs ergonomically, use work tools, and adjust lights and other items.

Giving workers choices can make them more comfortable and feel more in control of their work and workplace. There are a number of things that can provide control—simple things like letter trays, shelving, storage bins, personal air control, coat hooks, options to increase privacy, a place to securely store personal belongings, and areas to display personal items.

Based on the latest research, more workers are getting more opportunities to have some control over their workspaces. A Herman Miller trends study found that 45 percent of companies surveyed say they allow employees to select or choose some features or elements of their workstations.

Ultimately, 17 percent of the respondents predict that worker control over the designs of their workstations will increase in the next five years—a move that will make the competitive advantage even more competitive.


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