Architects and designers are increasingly incorporating neighbourhood design principles to create workplace environments that support and enhance employee engagement.

New research from Steelcase has further examined the correlation between employee engagement and workplace satisfaction; the study found that worker satisfaction was directly proportional to their levels of engagement – a happy worker made for a more engaged worker.

Workplace design, therefore, has evolved with architects and designers fashioning visually identifiable collision points for employees to share ideas, collaborate and meet, mirroring the behaviours of their home neighbourhoods. A 2016 Gallup Poll noted that teams with high employee engagement rates were 21 per cent more productive.

This neighbourhood design approach can be experienced at the Airbnb workplace in Tokyo or Dublin. The design speaks a common language with a clear set of principles at play. There are no individual desks; workstations are collective spaces; a central multi-use staircase links the space; and visual connections throughout help employees and guests navigate their way around. Using ‘in home’ elements in each space, Airbnb’s neighbourhood design approach aims to connect their team to customers and the overall brand proposition.

Biophilic design in the neighbourhood

Biophilic design or nature-inspired design is proven to support employee engagement. The Human Spaces Report by Interface – a global study of office workers – details how respondents noted increased creativity, productivity and wellbeing on being exposed to natural elements including sunlight and greenery in their workspace.

E-commerce company Etsy and partner Gensler recently designed a workspace in New York, which showcases technology, craft and a regenerative ecosystem inspired by nature. Natural materials were used to distinguish different neighbourhoods, ensuring employees could navigate, co-work and use the space to best suit their needs.

Evolution of the neighbourhood

The concept of ‘neighbourhood’ has evolved over the years, going beyond the home space to the workplace, which reflects the changing needs of today’s workforce. Employees today want a workplace that inspires them, connects them to nature, is designed with their needs in mind and offers the feel of a community.