Apr 14, 2017
BY: and
THEME: Workplace

The New “Tech Office”: How Good Design Enables Better Customer Service

The term “tech office” increasingly describes a workplace with a laid-back and fun vibe, no matter the industry. The early 2000s saw high-profile companies like Microsoft and Google lead the charge in promoting fun, colorful and energetic office environments—complete with unconventional perks like slides and games rooms—and other industries took notice.

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift in focus in the design of tech offices. The mature tech office has lost its ostentatious features, and is instead gravitating toward using offices as human resource tools to foster culture, productivity, and health and wellness. Adopting a more nurturing environment for employees can have strategic impact on employees’ job performance, and in turn, the customer experience of their clients.  Numerous studies report on the positive relationship between engaged employees and satisfied customers, and tech companies understand that a carefully designed office is a powerful tool for engagement.

Below are the key traits of a tech office that enhances customer service through employee engagement:

Authenticity

An authentic office design supports high performing employees by prioritizing function over frivolities.  Architectural features are exposed and celebrated, and additive finishes and materials play functional roles. Spaces are comfortable and reconfigurable to suit team needs, and technology is plug-and-play rather than fixed. The right balance of functional work spaces, collaborative zones, tools and technology, and social spaces sends a message to employees that their efforts are valued. The needs of the end customer are front of mind because the physical office environment acts as an active reminder of the organization’s mission and services.

 

Bench – Vancouver, British Columbia

Wellness

The progressive tech office takes a holistic approach to an individual’s happiness through design that encourages employee health and wellness. Access to daylight, superior indoor air quality, healthy materials, active design strategies, and access to healthy snacks promote physical health while at work, which is frequently cited as a factor that impacts greater employee productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.

Numerous strategies that support the emotional and mental wellbeing of employees are also gaining traction in the tech industry, including a variety of casual social spaces for relationship building, pet friendly offices, meditation spaces, and access to plants and nature. HR strategies complement these design decisions, and help advocate for mental wellbeing and greater work-life balance. For example, our client Bench Accounting publicly published their Mental Health Guide to open up dialogue about this critical topic.

 

Bench – Vancouver, British Columbia

Empowerment

A successful tech office recognizes that positive outcomes for clients are essential for company growth, and the process that achieves those results is often different depending on individual workstyles. Workers feel satisfied when they achieve tasks and reach professional goals in a way that is intuitive for them—utilizing their own strengths and preferences. The tech office empowers employees to find their own path to success, and consequently transfers this satisfaction to the customer experience. Remote work, flexible hours, mentorship programs, tailored professional goals and career paths, and the celebration of innovation are ways that can enable empowerment.  As part of a growing trend, one Vancouver based tech-client recently outfitted its office with a makerspace that allows staff to rapidly prototype their inventions and satisfy their appetites for creativity.

Bench – Vancouver, British Columbia

Community

Happy and engaged employees feel connected to their organization’s mission. Through shared passion for the work they do, employees become members of a community in which each of their contributions is valued. Embedding the organization’s shared vision and brand identity in the workplace design reinforces a sense of purpose and pride at every workplace touchpoint, which translates to pride in customer service. Workplace design can also facilitate friendship at work, which bodes well for employee satisfaction. Modern tech offices are particularly skilled at providing social spaces for informal gatherings and the chance encounters between employees that help spur cross-team collaboration.

Software AG – San Francisco, California

Not surprisingly, all of these good employee vibes trickle down to customers and clients. Entrepreneur and tech guru Richard Branson said it best when he boldly proclaimed, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

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