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When I first heard about the ideologies of Steelcase’s Ken Tameling on Workspace Design, I knew he’s someone I could relate to.

Steelcase, for those who may not be aware, are one of the stalwarts in Workspace Research & Analysis across the globe. Their knowledge & services across the years have been pioneering in terms of the Workspace Design revolution.


Recently, I had the privilege of attending one of Ken’s talks at a Steelcase Interaction Evening, and his ideas on the role of workplace design in team engagement got a few thoughts flowing. Here’s my perspective…

Team engagement, often misconstrued for team satisfaction is the extent to which teams feel passionate about their jobs and the level of commitment to their organization. Engaged teams are those who take positive action to further the organization’s reputation and welfare and fuel the organization during times of economic growth. Considered important drivers of an organization’s success, team engagement is extremely important for preventing setbacks when market conditions are uncertain and volatile.

The landmark Steelcase study reported that more than one-third of the working populace in 17 of the world’s most important economies are disengaged, which has a tremendous negative effect on the overall growth.

Disengaged teams are a futile cost to the company, slowing projects, draining resources and even undermining company goals, only proving that not only is it important for the employers to keep their teams engaged but engagement also affects the individual worker and the overall organization well-being.

Team Engagement is crucial because it has a direct correlation with workplace satisfaction. The Steelcase study revealed that 11% of highly dissatisfied teams were also in fact, highly disengaged.

This explains the butterfly phenomena, which implies one occurrence having a severe effect on multiple processes to follow. In this case, disengaged and dissatisfied teams only cause a hindrance to the growth of the company as they lose interest in processes, working and welfare of the organization.

It is thus, important to maintain engagement in team members through a number of internal and external communication methods.

Engaged teams have more control over their experience of work and therefore, tend to shape their experiences to suit their requirements. Proven by the Steelcase study, engaged teams tend to have more control and therefore, also tend to make the most of their experiences at work. Engaged teams feel empowered, in organizational decisions and physical spaces, thus experiencing autonomy at work. This also gives them the access to privacy at their workplace, if and when needed, making more members of the organization aspire to avail the same comfort.

Team engagement, however also depends on a number of external factors. Not only is it a two-way process of communication, discussions, feedback and opportunities, but also is affected by the cultural context of the country. Established economies with industrial and administrative traditions that often include hierarchical management styles and workplace norms tend to rank lower on the engaged teams scale. Satisfaction with the working and national environment, both, is low.

In the Indian scenario however, there are more and more opportunities to enhance engagement among colleagues, a stat which is already high compared to other international counterparts.

As mentioned in the study, ‘the workplace can often feel like a haven from the congestion of everyday life at home and on busy streets.’

Which is a claim supported by numbers. 73 percent of Indians say their work environment allows them to feel relaxed and calm.

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10 thoughts on “Engagement and the Global Workplace

  1. Rajendra Bendre

    Great post Ninad!

    We are at our joyful best in places that blow our breath away! Usually at the edge of the unkown, uncertain and the dangerous a precipice, a mountain top, down snow clad mountains while skiing, when the immensity of the landscape in front of us is incomprehensible and so on.

    Will be great when work spaces take our breath away and at the same time bring us all together to express our collective intelligence to make our work an expression of art!.

  2. Swati Balgi

    Congrats Ninad ! Nice to read expert’s views on Workspace Design. Will look forward to read more on your blog.
    Swati Balgi

  3. Praveen

    Ninad nice to read your post…Happy Ken”s session was impactful. .Let’s continue this collaboration around workplace knowledge..

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