Does the perfect office location exist? Businesses across the globe struggle to find a balance between factors such as prestige, price, accessibility, and comfort, with some businesses simply choosing their location based on the nature of their field and others selecting a headquarters based on local amenities. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that the notion of an ideal office location is quite different for each employee, informed directly by their individual needs and requirements. As an employer, you should always consider your employee's well-being, as this is a sure way to increase their happiness and overall productivity in the workplace.
So, just how important is the location of the office for employee happiness and what are some things that you will need to think about?
Here are a few things to consider.
When considering office location, one of the main things that is naturally considered is the commute. According to the United States Census Bureau, the average American spends 26.6 minutes commuting to work. Although this may not seem like too much time, keep in mind that this number represents a one-way trip. Considering the journey home, as well as the fact that full-time workers will usually have to take this trip five days per week, it’s easy to see the importance that employees place on their commute.
The argument of whether commuting hinders an employee's productivity has been debated for a long time. Countless studies and articles published by various websites suggest that a prolonged commute damages an employee's health and well-being in the long run. The ideal commute time differs considerably, with some studies suggesting that anything lasting less than 20 minutes is ideal, a figure that could be considered a cause for alarm considering the previously mentioned national average of 26 minutes.
It makes sense that those with a long commute time might find they're less productive than employees with a shorter commute, as the latter won't be so tired from traveling and the former may find themselves waking up in the early hours of the morning to ensure they can get to work on time.
This teaches us one thing; the importance of location, in terms of an employee's commute, is significant to an employee's happiness and productivity.
Another thing to consider is the way in which your employees commute. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the majority of American use motor vehicles to reach the workplace with 76% of Americans driving to work alone and 9% choosing to carpool with friends, family or colleagues. Considering such a large number of workers commute via car, offices must ensure that there are ample available parking spaces. It's also important to consider the cost of these car spaces, and the cost of parking permits for the year.
On the other hand, the same census data shows us that 5.1% of commuters use public transport, including trains and buses. Employees who take the train or bus can breathe a sigh of relief if the train station or bus stop is nearby their workplace. Only 0.6% of people cycle to work, but it's still important to consider the viability of cycling when searching for an office location, especially the prevalence for nearby bike paths and how safe they are to travel on. If these needs aren't met, traveling to the office every day will cause stress and anxiety, contributing to a general decline of employee happiness.
In addition, various expenses come with commuting. If your employee travels by car, they'll have to pay petrol. If they're taking the train, they'll have to pay fees for train tickets. Even with the inclusion of rail cards, yearly deals, and cheaper ticket types, the cost of traveling for five days a week, to and from work, soon adds up. This combines to become a considerable chunk taken straight from your employee's monthly paycheck.
Furthermore, long commutes can often force employees to wake up in the early hours of the morning to ensure that they are able to catch their train or bus at the correct time. This is especially true in cities with subpar public transport systems, with some employees having to catch multiple forms of transport on their way to the office, resulting in them potentially being tired or unproductive at the tail end of their work hours.
In a large city such as Dallas, where commuting can be difficult, many businesses would be better off being based in a quieter area that offers professional executive suites, such as North Dallas. A quieter and more easily accessible location will cut down commute time and the expenses that come with it, and, in turn, ensure your employee's journey to work is less stressful.
Studies show that we need 30 minutes of exercise a day to remain fit and healthy. If your employees spend most of their day hunched over screens, they'll need constant breaks to refresh their eyes and stretch. Everyone needs fresh air and vitamin D, but these things become increasingly difficult to get when locked in an office.
Having an office in a location where you can easily go for a quick walk on your lunch break will do wonders for productivity. Just one 30-minute walk every day strengthens the muscles and helps you keep in good physical condition. Taking time out of your day to get moving will also work to give you and your employees that much needed mental boost that’s associated with physical activity.
Your employees should be able to return to their desks feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready for the rest of the day ahead. A lack of fresh air can cause headaches and fatigue, further contributing to a decrease in your employees' happiness and productivity.
This will affect where an employee wants to work. For example, if they have children, they'll want to work somewhere that's close to their home and their children's school. They'll want to be able to pick their child up at a moment's notice if needed.
We've already touched on the cost of commuting, but what about the astronomical costs of childcare? On top of bills and the expenses of everyday life, not all parents can afford to put their child in childcare or invest in after school clubs.
Furthermore, parental guilt often stems from overworking or even the simple act of leaving a child to go to work. Simply put, some parents might not want to leave their children at an after-school club, instead preferring to pick their child up from school themselves. A lengthy commute would make this impossible, adding additional stress to the everyday life of an employee.
Working in an office that's located close to childcare facilities, or even choosing an office space with a creche, might serve to ease a parent's guilt, especially if they're able to visit that child at intervals throughout the day. This will inevitably put your employee at ease, making their workday much happier. They won't need to worry as much about their child, and they'll be able to get on with the tasks they have to do.
Feeling safe in the office should be a priority, especially when it comes to office location. Although the crime rate is lowering in most American cities, crime is still proportionately more rampant within urban areas and busy city streets (where a lot of workspaces are located) when compared to rural areas. Some people working late nights or extra shifts may be unable to leave the office until it's dark. This can be frightening, especially if they're commuting and have to walk to the train station, bus stop or through a dimly lit area.
According to Gallup, 4 in 10 Americans are afraid to walk home at night. This is especially true of women, with 61% taking extra steps and precautions to ensure their safety. These precautions involve avoiding walking alone, carrying pepper spray or other defensive measures, and taking busy public transport routes.
A busy office location with a lot of light, illuminated business signage that shows that the building is in use, and various transport options in the vicinity, will help put an employee's mind at ease when traveling to and from work.
Yes, office location is important when considering an employee's happiness. Basing your business in an easily accessible area that features great local amenities, transport routes, safety precautions, and exercise options, is vital to ensuring that employees enjoy going to work and remain motivated.
Everyone is different, and will therefore have different needs regarding office location, whether that's to do with their family, commute, safety, physical fitness, or something else.
If a company wants to recruit and retain employees who are continuously productive and performing, they will need to consider their employees' mental and physical health, happiness and well-being. If an employee is working in less than ideal conditions for long periods, with a lengthy commute at the end of the day, it'll affect their workflow and attention span and, as a result, their productivity will suffer. Ultimately, location plays a big part in an employee's happiness and overall wellbeing.
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