What do today’s office workers look for in the workplace? Capital One survey finds flexibility and wellness support near the top

by Brianna Crandall — July 31, 2019 — For the third year in a row, Fortune 500 financial holding company Capital One surveyed full-time office professionals for their thoughts and attitudes towards workplace design and experience, and how those elements impact their productivity, ability to collaborate, and overall well-being. The 2019 Work Environment Survey found that employees deeply value flexibility and adaptability when it comes to their workspaces and schedules, and that top talent are increasingly expecting employers to foster and encourage mental and physical well-being in the workplace.

Capital One graphic on workplace design elements preferred

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Key findings for the 2019 study include:

  • Workplace design forms a basis for success: Those surveyed acknowledged a strong correlation on the impact of thoughtful office design on their success in the workplace: 90% of office professionals agree that they perform their jobs better in workspaces that are well-designed. What does a well-designed workplace look like? Design elements
    Capital One infographic on workplace design for collaboration spaces

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    such as natural light and adaptable spaces are key, as is flexibility. 71% of employees agree it’s important for their company’s workplace design to be flexible, and 73% say they are able to work better when they have access to flexible furniture arrangements such as alternative desks.

  • Adaptability and flexibility: Data also revealed that companies must remain adaptable in their approach to workplace design to satisfy employees’ changing preferences. Onesize does not fit all, and employees are looking for options when it comes to where and how they work. 77% of respondents agree they perform better at work when they have spaces for collaboration in the workplace, and 88% say that space for focused, heads-down work helps them perform better. Employees also define flexibility in terms of solutions and services — provided by their employer — that make work-life harmony more attainable, such as flexible office hours, commuter assistance, and on-site amenities such as health centers. In fact, the top two perks that professionals expect from the next company they work for are flexible hours (61%) and the ability to work remotely (54%).
  • Supporting mental health and well-being: Nearly all professionals surveyed agree that it’s important for companies to create programs and spaces that support their employees’ mental health and well-being (87%). How can companies achieve that? Professionals cite flexible work schedules (67%), access to natural light (53%), and quiet spaces (42%) as mental health and well-being resources that would improve their satisfaction at work. In addition, 89% say they are able to work better when they have spaces in the office to take a break in throughout the day. The findings highlight just how important it is to today’s professionals that employers support them from a holistic perspective and help to foster the crucial balance between work and personal lives.

Stefanie Spurlin, vice president, Workplace Solutions at Capital One, stated:

Professionals today increasingly expect employers to examine the bigger picture of workplace design and their overall experience at the office. The findings of the 2019 Work Environment Survey indicate that it’s critical to remain adaptable when it comes to designing workspaces and amenities. Dynamic and adaptable spaces that not only accommodate various work styles but also foster employee well-being give companies an edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. A new evolution of workplace design is trending towards using physical spaces and workplace perks to foster hospitality-like experiences at the office. That approach empowers employees to achieve work-life harmony that ultimately makes them better and more productive at work.

Capital One infographic on mental health resources

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Other key findings of the 2019 Work Environment Survey highlight the design elements and perks that matter most to employees.

  • Bringing the outdoors in: Creating connections to nature in the workplace is more than a design trend — it can actually improve employees’ well-being and productivity. Despite that, more than one-third (36%) of employees say they have no connection (visual, physical
    Capital One infographic on connection to nature

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    or material) to nature in their workplace. When asked to rank what types of natural connections would support well-being and productivity, 57% cited a visual connection (windows, natural light); 45% cited a physical connection (outdoor spaces for working, relaxation or socializing); and 31% cited a material connection (natural materials, indoor plants or water features). Millennial professionals feel even more strongly about physical (51%) and material connections (37%), indicating those connections would improve productivity and well-being.

  • Location, location, design? For the third year in a row, a majority of employees agree that when it comes to considering a new job, office design is equally or more important than office location (54%). That number increases among mid-level employees (64%).
  • Attracting and retaining talent: Amenities and perks are key when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, and the top two perks that would make people stay with a company remained consistent between 2018 and 2019. 81% of employees rank a flexible schedule in their top two reasons to stay with a company, up 8% from 2018, and 40% say health amenities would make them stay.
  • Design elements that matter: For the third year in a row, natural light is the most desired workplace design element (58%). Highlighting the shifting desire for more total wellness experiences in the workplace, spaces for rest and relaxation are the second most desirable, trending up to 50% in 2019 from 25% in 2018. This year, the list is rounded out by individual work areas other than a traditional desk or workstation (45%); integration of natural or organic elements in or just outside the office building (26%); and bold colors (25%).

The Capital One Workplace Environment Survey was conducted by Morning Consult among 3,608 office professionals who are employed full-time in an office setting in the United States. The survey includes 1,000 national respondents, 518 from Chicago, 520 from Dallas, 512 from DC, 517 from New York City, and 541 from San Francisco. The survey was conducted from an online panel from April 18 – May 6, 2019. Comparisons between 2018 and 2019 data refer to the 1,000 national respondents.

This survey was supported by Capital One’s Workplace Solutions team, the group dedicated to building dynamic and scalable workplaces for Capital One associates and implementing sustainability initiatives and on-site experiences including health and wellness benefits.

To compare the 2019 findings with those from the 2018 study, see the “See if you can guess what today’s office workers expect in their work environment” article on FMLink.