More than 65% of businesses in the North West say that working environment is the most important factor when it comes to attracting new talent, according to a survey by national commercial property advisers Matthews & Goodman.

Mathews & Goodman’s “Future of Work” survey garnered the opinion of over 200 business decision makers on key areas such as growth, staff recruitment and retention, relocation obstacles and working environment.

It found that over 70% of businesses have expanded in the past 12 months and of these 77% envisage they will do so again in the next 12-18 months. Rather then relocate, 41% plan to expand or rework their current premises as their business grows, with over a quarter of respondents citing cost as the biggest obstacle to expansion or relocation.

In the recruitment and retention of staff, work environment was cited as a key influencing factor, with over 65% of respondents saying  that working environment was “very important” when it came to staff retention.

Working environment was also cited as a key factor when it comes to attracting new employees (62%), closely followed by brand and reputation (51%).

With a current average workforce age of 31-40, a third of businesses are not actively trying to attract younger workers. Those that are however recognise training and development (49%) and a collaborative office environment (37%) as key attractors.

David Laws, Partner at Matthews & Goodman’s Manchester office, commented, “Many businesses now employ two to three generations, so a key challenge is how best to accommodate these different generations in the work environment and workplace design can play a strong part in this.

With the infrequency in which occupiers move or refresh their space, what was once appropriate in terms of design or location may no longer be suitable. We are witnessing an increasing trend towards the domestication of workspaces and creation of environments which allow employees to collaborate more effectively.

We would urge business owners to be aware of how their workspace reflects their brand and culture and the role work environment plays in achieving maximum employee engagement.”