Planning Ahead: What Your Employees Really Want from Their Workspace in 2020

When startup culture was fresh on the scene, it reimagined the modern day workspace. Open floorplans replaced cubicles, in-house baristas became the new stale pot of breakroom coffee, and sounds of ping pong echoed at any given time of day.

The thought process: if people were going to spend so much time at work, companies might as well make it fun. In addition to providing unlimited vacation, of course.

Flash-forward to today and emerging statistics seem to suggest that fun isn’t exactly high on the priority list for workers trying to get things done. What’s trendy isn’t always what’s best in the world of office design.

Here’s what your employees really want from their workspaces in 2020.

Natural Light

A Harvard study published this year surveyed over 1,600 workers to better understand positive influencers of performance, happiness, and well-being in an office setting. What they found: people aren’t motivated by flashy perks and foosball.

Needs topping the list are much more basic. Natural lighting, for example, is something half of all those surveyed wanted access to. This isn’t surprising considering how impactful lighting can be on mood and productivity.

And while windows are best, you don’t always have the option to add more. What you can do though, is assess the dimness or brightness of your office space—adding adjustable lamps and/or LED bulbs for greater efficiency.

Better Air Quality

Right up there on the list of basic needs is air quality. Fresh, allergen-free air was deemed more important than a dedicated fitness center.

Workers also want the ability to better control their workspace temperature. It’s all about prioritizing comfort, productivity, and a holistic sense of wellness across shared spaces.

Customizable Comfort

Speaking of comfort, workers want the ability to personalize their workspace around preferences. Based on things like our social feeds and Alexa Home settings, this makes sense. We’ve become accustomed to customization.

This translates to the workspace in the form of ergonomic chairs, standing desks with adjustable heights, and overhead desk lighting. Workers want a space that feels like their own.

Noise Level Control

Open floor plans account for a lot of positives in their design—collaboration, comradery, movement. One of their downfalls, however, is the level of noise they generate.

Noisy offices can impact concentration and totally ruin plans for a productive workday. Instead of opting for openness alone, focus on creating balance. Designate spaces for meetings, focus, and in-the-moment brainstorms alike.


Even though workers aren’t keen on the noise produced in an open office environment, one thing they do appreciate is the flexibility. Having the option to move about and change your setting still beats out cubicles any day.

As you’re thinking about workspaces in 2020, create an environment that accounts for a variety of both working styles and needs. Some days may require more focus than others, some people prefer to work standing. Cater to these most simple of preferences to develop a workspace everyone can enjoy.

By Staples Canada

November 22, 2019