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Interestingly enough, with the rise of co-working locations, global connectivity, and collaboration technologies, many people believe that offices are going to die. This is only somewhat true. The traditional idea of an office is indeed on its way out–the one with gray walls, brown carpets, and lines of cubicles. However, the buildings themselves are going through a bit of an office design renaissance, and instead of disappearing, offices are reemerging as employee experience centers. According to commercial real estate firm CBRE, commercial real estate in the U.S. is at a seven-year high, and organizations such as Amazon, Cisco, Samsung, Whirlpool, GE, Schneider Electric, Deloitte, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and many others are investing millions of dollars into creating these employee experience centers, for a very good reason. As the world of work continues to evolve and change, so do the environments in which the world actually gets done.

It’s like redesigning a car by upgrading the engine and leaving the interior the same–it might be more powerful, but if it’s not pleasant to spend time in, you won’t want to drive it! A recent study by furniture manufacturer Steelcase found that nearly 90% of workers around the world are less than satisfied with their work environments, which means there is a lot of room for improvement.

A study from 2010 in British Journal of Management found that there is a social identity that employees have with their workspaces, and the physical environment can affect the psychological comfort of the employees who work there.

To create a great physical environment for employees, organizations need to focus on the following major characteristics, which are abbreviated as COOL:

• Chooses to bring in friends and visitors

• Offers flexibility

• Organizations’ values are reflected

• Leverages multiple workspace options

By focusing on these areas, which we’ll look at more in-depth in future articles, organizations can create a physical environment that represents employees and encourages them to get involved and do their best work.

My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.

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