A well-planned office space creates a competitive advantage on the recruitment market

According to Management Expert Tiina Alho, companies must plan and manage the necessary expertise systematically in order to achieve the desired competitive advantage. When the competition for the top talent accelerates and there are not enough skillful candidates for all areas, it creates challenges for finding the right candidates. Therefore, the company culture and work environment are more important than before when recruiting.

The competition for the top talent is already the standard procedure for many companies

Clinging to the past on the recruitment market is of no help, as work life has changed significantly during recent years. Competition for the most skillful workers is constantly increasing and it is often difficult to find candidates suitable for positions requiring special expertise. The phenomenon is especially prevalent in the IT industry.

When employees have a lot of options, the employer must differentiate itself from the competition. This is why every company should have a plan for how to attract the best experts to join their company.

Account Director Tiina Alho at HRM Partners, which offers effective change and management solutions, is able to see an excellent cross-section of the highlights and challenges of work life. She has had a front row seat in witnessing change.

Tiina Alho
Image: HRM Partners
Photographer: Heli Hirvelä

– Meaningful work has become increasingly important. We are experiencing a transition period in work life, where self-management and engaging in meaningful work is emphasized. The way and format of working is changing, which means a departure from time, location and agreements, for example. Today’s employees know what they want from their careers and employer and are able to choose their place of work according to these values.

A good company culture is uniform everywhere – also with office space

Although soda machines and slides may be a fun addition to the workplace, a most employees value meaningful daily work and operational flow the most. The work environment is a big part of daily flow and it can either support or erode the experience employees have of the company.

According to Alho, the most important recruitment advantage is the company culture meaning what type of values, operational methods and daily work practices prevail in the company. Both the perceived employer image and the employee experience are constructed based on culture.

– The most important thing is that the people truly also live and promote the culture that is communicated externally. The made value promises must be fulfilled and should be evident in daily life as a seamless whole, Alho summarizes.

The image should be uniform at all points of contact, which means that the office space should also truly reflect the company image.

–  Anyone can imagine how a job applicant will feel who has applied for employment in a modern and self-directing software house, but arrives for the interview at an office stuck in the 80's. The experience must be uniform in terms of the culture, whether it be an employee, customer or partner.

Although the employer brand and company culture often arise as topics for discussion during recruitment, their importance should also be kept in mind for retaining employees. Alho reiterates that it is good to try to keep good employees with the company as long as possible.

–  Every employer surely knows how much it costs to recruit and train a new employee. This is why it is the most effective for all parties to find the right people on the first attempt and to also keep them with the company as long as possible. This can be aided by offering clear development paths and by guaranteeing the availability of a good environment for daily work.

A good work environment supports the individual needs of employees

It is important to the employee that the daily work routines can be performed without disruptions. According to Alho, the employer should consider the employee as an individual and determine how the work of that specific employee can be made as seamless as possible. A well-designed work environment offers the best possible prerequisites for working.

– I believe that a good work environment has considered sufficient ergonomics and work efficiency. The office space can affect efficiency either positively or negatively.

A well-designed office space meets the needs of individual employees: if some of the employees need a quiet space in order to focus but others need to engage in teamwork, the work environment should offer space for both purposes. An effective office space and tools improve employee efficiency, which also improves the company’s competitiveness.

Although the ultimate responsibility for the efficiency of the office space lies with the employer, it is good to involve employees in the matter.

– The employees themselves often have the best perspective on what they need to succeed. They know what assignments lie on their desks and what types of spaces would best serve completing them, Alho summarizes.

The location of the workplace is important to the employee

To employees of today, the location of the company is important. Millennials, for example, want to often live in urban areas with a short commute to their workplace. In Europe, already 74% of the population already live in urban areas and the percentage is expected to increase even further in the future. It is clear that a company competing for skillful employees must pay more attention to the location of the office in the future.

A good location is expensive and requires companies to plan their office spaces carefully. There simply is no room for wasted space, as something must be trimmed as rent costs increase.

A change in work life luckily supports development, and the use of activity-based offices has allowed many companies to successfully reduce rental costs by increasing efficiency with the office spaces. Alho also believes that many companies are able to manage with smaller spaces.

– I once heard a rule of thumb that approximately 15 square meters of space should be reserved for every employee. However, I don’t believe this applies any more. The way of working has changed and today a company can manage with a much smaller workspace, as long as it is well-designed.

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