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Office design is more important than ever: using UX principles can help

by Ana Lopez
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By Sagi Gidali

It’s no secret that the pandemic has completely changed the conversation about how we work and where we work. Workers are now prioritizing work flexibility, and companies that can provide it have the upper hand in attracting and retaining talent. According to Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey, 68% of employees say a hybrid schedule is the ideal workplace model. This is especially true in the tech industry; outdoor systems found that 50% of developers have a need for a better work-life balance.

At my company, we wanted to create an environment where a return to the office wasn’t a full-time requirement and didn’t feel too busy. We renovated our Tel Aviv office, which is located in a building that is considered a historic landmark, to show our employees how invested we are in this culture.

Our most recent internal engagement survey found that our employees are 15 percentage points above the average in Israel and the United States when it comes to happiness and productivity in the office. The data is clear: our employees enjoy coming to the office. Those personal contacts stimulate innovation and productivity in the process.

My business background is in design and the first hire I made at my company was not a salesperson or a developer – it was a designer. We prioritized the user experience (UX) design of our platform and took the same approach with our regional headquarters.

How does the UX of a software platform compare to the employee experience in a physical office? These are the critical components that apply to both that have inspired our office renovations.

How to design your office space with the employee experience in mind

Determine your ideal customer profile

A successful UX depends on understanding your ideal customer profile (ICP). What you design should meet the needs of your target audience so you can retain and grow it. Before the refurbishment of our office, the ICP were our employees.

We started by taking demographic ages into account. The average age of our employees is 36 years. But in 2025 27% of the workforce will be made up by Gen Z. They crave community and belonging in their workplace. We created an environment with both open spaces and intimate workspaces. Between meeting rooms that can accommodate 18 people, tables for 12 or six employees, or even private rooms, we wanted workspaces that met the different needs of each team and age group. Employees can even go to our terrace or our rooftop where they can work comfortably from their laptop.

Having a deep understanding of your ICP will help you design an efficient UX. In this case, we used it to create a work environment that encourages creativity and collaboration, without sacrificing productivity.

Listen to feedback

Just as we would get feedback on a feature in our UX to improve the design, we did the same for our workspace.

According to The Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, the younger generation prioritizes learning and development over climbing the corporate ladder. In our internal survey, 85% of employees said our physical workspace is a pleasant place to work (13% more than the US tech company benchmark). We built a multimedia classroom to emphasize our focus on it. It includes microphones built into the wall so that our remote workers around the world can easily connect and listen to lecturers and audience speakers.

We also have an auditorium that can seat 220 at a time, encouraging connectivity and working friendships. reports Gallup that only two in ten employees say they have a best friend at work; that lack of connection affects productivity. Our goal was to improve both facets.

Your UX will never improve if you don’t ask for feedback on the platform. The same applies to the employee experience at the office.

Own your brand

Your UX is unique to your organization; it is directly connected to your brand. An important part of our brand is the history in Tel Aviv.

Our new building is directly connected to the story of Israel. It formerly belonged to the Kibbutz movement, which The Jewish Agency for Israel describes as a revolutionary society that lived “in accordance with collectivism. . . in addition to a cooperative character in terms of culture and social life.”

It was a place of shared resources and we made sure to incorporate that legacy into our office. Between our cafeteria, auditorium and collaboration areas, our space reflects movement and emphasizes the importance of coming together. Some parts of our six-story building have been completely renovated, while others pay homage to the history of the Israeli kibbutz.

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Low touch engagement is a game changer

Tech giants are building massive high-touch engagements on their campuses. Microsoft’s new headquarters will have 17 offices, shops, restaurants and sports facilities. But will it make employees more engaged and productive? Clive Wilkinson, who helped design Google’s sprawling campus, says the The Google campus is dangerous and fundamentally unhealthy because it disrupts work-life balance.

In my first job as a designer, I quickly learned that a low-touch engagement system – one that is simple, fast and easy to use – adds more value and volume to a company. I implemented that with our own platform and the same approach was used when redesigning our office.

With various seating options, collaboration areas, gym and cafeteria, we provide everything an employee needs throughout the day, but we don’t overload them with gimmicks that make them ignore their work. They can decide where they work, how they work and what makes an effective workday for them, without feeling trapped in space. Our research showed that 85% of employees like our physical workspace, and I think the flexibility of our space is part of the reason for that.

Office design is important, and UX principles can help

Understanding how to improve UX has been my guiding force in creating a better employee experience in the office. When improving your platform, you need to figure out how to make the customer’s life the easiest.

When we redesigned our office space, we solved the issues that impacted employee efficiency and created a new environment that really made them want to step through our front door.

About the author

Sagi Gidali is a serial entrepreneur who creates, scales and optimizes new SaaS solutions. Currently the CGO and co-founder of Circumference 81Sagi is leading a revolution to change the way we consume cybersecurity.

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