Forget company cars and gym memberships, the way to an employee’s heart is through innovative and exciting office design says Margot Van Der Poel, brand manager of SPACES ME&APAC.

As we entered the new millennium, we said goodbye to cubicle farms, which gave way to open floorplans and minimalistic design.

This was the beginning of a period of change where employers started to recognise office space as a tool to positively impact employees and the work they produce.

In the past, an office worker’s opinion on their workplace wouldn’t have stretched beyond how far away the kitchen was from their desk, whether there are enough toilets in the building and perhaps whether the temperature is too hot in summer and freezing in the winter.

Today, office design can take a far more important role for employees when deciding to take a job. With big tech companies and start-ups actively promoting and advertising office features as a point of difference to attract talent.

As the battle to hire the best people continues, more companies want to offer inspiring, community-based office spaces full of perks.

Over the years, various factors have influenced the way firms design their offices, from the need for open team communication, to promoting creativity with indoor slides and ping-pong tables.

Today, the war for talent is one of the most important influences, with a recent PwC survey stating that attracting the best potential employees from the millennial generation is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses.

This is resulting in more firms supplementing their benefits package with innovative and interesting office designs.

This revolution is in part being driven by employee demand, as people look for more control over the way they work including finding an environment that is suited to their needs. If these aren’t met, they’ll quickly look elsewhere.

The most recent Global Workspace Survey (GWS) from IWG found that having a choice of work environment is a key factor for 70 percent of Australians when evaluating new career opportunities.

Multiple top employers are already thinking outside the box and adapting their offering to stand out from competitors and secure prospective staff, both globally and locally in Australia. Slack’s Melbourne headquarters feature an indoor plant paradise, housing 325 plants to create a tranquil feeling among employees.

Another example is Trip Advisor’s Sydney headquarters, which have been designed with stand-up meeting rooms with no ceilings and no doors to remove privacy so that everyone knows what is going on and encourage knowledge sharing with the wider office.

However, office design doesn’t have to be this drastic to attract top employees. From soundproof booths for private calls to comfortable lounges for group collaboration, the workplace environment isn’t ‘one size fits all’ and small changes can make a big difference.

Tailoring workspaces to the nature of the job can help too, with the GWS also finding that  64 percent of Australian employees believe this would make staff more productive.

By giving people the freedom to work in their own way, it not only improves the job offering for talent, but also enables employees to reach their maximum potential.

Gone are the days of being crammed into a cubicle staring at grey walls for eight hours. Employees and employers both recognise that the regular 9-5 is increasingly a thing of the past. Offering staff the freedom to choose the best environment for them is the new way to attract talent and get ahead of competitors.

Image: SPACES / Surrey Hills