Using Workspace Design to Keep Software Development Teams Engaged and Motivated
A competitive salary is no longer enough to attract and retain software developers. Businesses today need a modern workspace design that promotes collaboration, growth, and innovation in order to keep developers engaged, motivated, and loyal.
The software industry is cut-throat when it comes to talent, so employers have to make sure their teams feel comfortable and content in their workspace to prevent them jumping ship to work somewhere else – the internet has made it very easy for them to find an alternative.
Globally, technology players have been emulating workspace design trends seen in Silicon Valley, but not always nailing the more important aspects. For instance, they might install a video game console in the break room, but fail to provide adequate space for collaborative working – these additions are a nice start, but far from a home run.
To attract and retain the best talent, there are steps you can follow to ensure your workspace meets all the needs of technology pros, helping you build teams that stick around for the long term.
Matching the Organization’s Identity
Once your corporate culture and brand identity have been established, it’s vital to support that branding and culture through intelligent workspace design, as the right approach has the power to reassure employees that they are working for a unique, distinct company that values them.
Identity is not just about slapping a huge logo on the wall; brand identity can be reinforced by applying company color schemes throughout the facility, displaying motivating messages, creating quiet or open-plan working areas, and much more.
As an example, if your company is working on an exciting new initiative or is pushing to achieve a specific goal, you can use posters, TV screens, standing displays, or paint the walls to communicate that message, and change them when something new comes along. This presents the company as an ambitious, forward-thinking place to work, giving employees a sense of security and pride in their workplace, and inspiring them to shoot for those targets.
Think about what your company truly represents or wants to achieve and match your workspace design accordingly. A thoughtful approach will always be positive for productivity and loyalty.
Design Spaces that Promote Collaboration
Are you hoping to inspire creativity or innovation? Studies show that open-plan spaces with ambient communications are great for kick-starting conversations, leading inevitably to fresh ideas and creative discussions.
Open-plan offices are a great start, but when people can also separate from the pack to explore their ideas in small groups, it can create a sense of teamwork and empowerment in your developers.
These collaborative spaces could be a cafeteria, an outdoor terrace, a lounge area, a meeting room, or anything with a place to sit and talk as a team. Whatever your company identity, software developers always respond well to these kinds of areas, as they compel people to get together, work as a team, discuss challenges and solutions, and not be stuck to their desks, so don’t overlook them in your floor plans when approaching workspace design.
Make People Feel Appreciated
Modern workspaces are more successful at retaining people when they have the same amenities and provisions that can be found at home, because even the smallest things can show incredible appreciation for your teams.
Employers today have to make a good impression, because there is a risk that people will complain about things on social media, which damage company reputations and put a dent in that painstakingly crafted culture.
Make sure to install a quality coffee maker, plenty of power outlets with USB connectors, phone charging stations, a comfortable couch or lounge area, free or cheap drinks and snacks, and consider any employee requests. Probe for their suggestions on a regular basis, asking what you can do to make them feel more comfortable or more at home.
These details may seem minor, but they make it easier for people to spend time in the workplace. It also communicates that you have an understanding of peoples’ basic needs, so they are more focused on staying there and making a good impression – after all, they sometimes get tired, phone batteries frequently run out, and coffee is developer fuel.
Consider the Needs of Various Worker Demographics
Young workers and workers with years of experience have vastly different requirements, so it’s important to know what works and what doesn’t for each demographic.
Young people are often very active, so respond well to recreational things like gyms, sports areas, active classes like yoga, or team games. Older, more experienced workers may have family commitments or more daily chores to take care of, so things like a daycare area for the kids, a laundry room, a mini-market, or an on-site doctor can be highly attractive perks, as they save them a lots of time and money.
Think about the kinds of amenities that appeal most to your target demographic, as they can really help you stand out from the competition and attract valuable, talent people from all walks of life.
Implement Clear Policies to Ensure Productivity and Discipline
While the main goal is to boost productivity and motivation, there is always a risk of employees using the perks as an excuse to slack off, perhaps spending hours in the games room or sleeping on your comfy couches.
To avoid this, you should develop clear policies that ensure people do not take advantage of the benefits you have provided, perhaps by outlining a time limit for lunch breaks, or setting and monitoring goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). These are clear, actionable signs that your workspace design is either boosting or hindering productivity.
It’s a fine balance though: on the one hand you want to say “We’re a cool company and will care for you”, but, on the other, you also have to be strict with people who abuse their benefits. As a company, you also have to accept that developers have started to expect these perks from their employers, making them essential to your success.
By understanding that software development professionals view this culture as the new norm, you can apply these tips and begin taking a different, more proactive approach to workspace design.