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Workplace environments: Does a cool office really matter?

Updated: 14 Apr 2016

The technology sector’s famously alternative workspaces are being replicated by many businesses – but do they have the desired impact on employee productivity, performance and retention? 

According to recruiting experts Hays, the answer depends on your organisation’s culture.  

“The technology sector is known for its cool, convention-defying offices,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia. “For example Google in Zurich has a slide between floors, Facebook in Menlo Park has a sweet shop, and Twitter in San Francisco has a yoga room. These trendy tech businesses have attracted talent through their exciting work environments.  

While they may be luxurious places to work, those same workplaces in other sectors can become a distraction to employees and fail to have a positive impact. Architects may get an opportunity to design a ‘cool’ workspace, but do you really need bean bags, a rooftop bar, nap pods or chill zones to engage your organisation’s ‘big kids’ into better, more productive work? 

“When working with employers on their candidate attraction strategy, we remind them that their office environment is more than just the furnishings. It’s about communicating to candidates the reality of working at your organisation,” she said.  

Hays also point out that a rejuvenated environment can make a big difference to the way an organisation goes to work - provided it is reflective of an effective cultural change. However, when a new coat of paint is only covering the cracks in your people management strategy, the results won’t be so successful and turnover will not be reduced. 

“It is your culture and your unique way of operating that will retain your top performers,” explains Christine.  “So before signing up for an in-house bowling alley, it pays to remember that any environment needs to reflect the culture of the organisation, as well as enhance it. 

“After all, that’s what makes the pioneers in this area stand out – Google and Facebook had the culture before the office. A colourful, engaging, welcoming workplace is undoubtedly a fantastic HR tool, but it needs to ring true, or it will only ever be a new coat of paint.” 

This issue is explored further in the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter’s bi-annual magazine on the world of HR and recruitment.  To access the Hays Journal please visit:  

In China Hays operates from four local offices: Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. 

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people. 

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About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.  

Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing. 

Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company. As at 31 December 2014 Hays employed 8,748 staff operating from 244 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2014, Hays placed around 57,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 212,000 people into temporary assignments. 24% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific. 

Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.