Capital One Work Environment Survey Finds Professionals Want Choices to Inspire Creativity

Capital One in Arlington, VA, by Gensler. Photography by Garrett Rowland.

Capital One in Arlington, VA, by Gensler. Photography by Garrett Rowland.

Design-forward workplaces help employees be more creative and innovative. Professionals — especially millennials — crave flexible workspaces that enable social interactions and accommodate all kinds of work styles. And professionals have a lot of interest in environmentally friendly initiatives.

Those are just a few of the findings of the expansive Capital One 2017 Work Environment Survey released yesterday. Conducted by Wakefield Research, 500 office professionals were surveyed in Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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“People like flexibility when it comes to postures and places,” says Carrie Ruban, Workplace Solutions at Capital One director. “It is also important to look at real estate holistically. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for every firm.”

The Capital One survey asked 2,500 full-time office professionals (500 in each of the above markets) to share their preferences and priorities when it comes to workplace design, environment and benefits. They were given questions about what workplace features are most important to them, if their office accommodates their preferred work styles and how important workplace design is relative to the location of the office.

Capital One Labs in San Francisco by IA Interior Architects. Photography by Jasper Sanidad.

Capital One Labs in San Francisco by IA Interior Architects. Photography by Jasper Sanidad.

The survey also explored the millennial point of view on workplace design and how it impacts innovation, performance and retention.

Here are a few key findings:

  • Design inspires innovation: 82 percent of office professionals believe companies cannot encourage innovation unless their workplace design and environment is innovative.
  • When asked how strongly they agree or disagree with the statement “My company's current workplace design and environment does not encourage me to be innovative,” 60 percent agreed and 40 percent disagreed.
  • When asked which best describes their company's current workplace design, 52 percent responded with “uninspiring” and 48 percent with “inspiring.”
  • Design elements matter: 62 percent want natural light, 44 percent want artwork and creative imagery, 43 percent want easily reconfigurable furniture and spaces, 37 percent want collaborative spaces, 26 percent want bold colors and 25 percent want spaces for rest and relaxation.
  • Flexible workspaces drive creativity: 82 percent agree they have their best ideas when able to use flexible workspace options, and 62 percent said they have options outside of a standard desk set-up where they can work throughout the office.
  • On-site benefits are important as well. If it meant forgoing all other benefits, respondents would most like to have on-site healthy food and beverage options.
  • Paper use reduction, energy efficiency and recycling top the list of environmentally friendly initiatives respondents wish their company would implement the most.
  • When considering a new job, nearly 2 in 3 office professionals believe workplace design is equally as important or more important than workplace location. Millennials are more likely to believe this than baby boomers.
  • Collaboration, innovation and diverse perspectives are the positive attributes most frequently reflected in respondents' workplace design.

The survey found few regional differences. Workers in Chicago want many of the same things as workers in San Francisco. But according to Samantha Fisher, Capital One senior director of workplace experience, workers would like to see their local cultures represented in workplace designs. “Most forward-thinking companies understand that things like local art programs embedded in the workplace really help,” she says.

For example, among Chicago respondents, 66 percent believe Chicago culture isn't reflected in their company's workplace design and 66 percent believe Chicago's diverse perspectives aren't reflected in workplace design.

There are differences in the weight different areas place on workplace attributes.

Dallas is an area where design and flexibility play a huge role in creativity in the workplace. More than 80 percent of Dallas office professionals claim to have their best ideas when they work in flexible space options. In Dallas, nearly half of the respondents say they do not have options and space outside of a standard desk set-up where they can work.

In Washington, D.C., professionals crave the top benefits design brings to the table — from flexible hours to on-site fitness centers and more. The New York market wants “exciting” workplaces. In San Francisco, workplace design is even more important than workplace location.

“It's not just space that is important,” Fisher says. “It is also the integration of the physical and technology. What is innovative for each person is subjective, but for us at Capital One, it is about upholding our values.”

Capital One's offices in Chicago reflect what it calls the “three C's” — Capital One, Chicago and cool. It reflects the city as well with an “industry” area where the work happens and a “retail" area, since its office there represents retail card partnerships Capital One has with retailers and Chicago's rich retail history.