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16 January 2019
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Offices can mar productivity © iStock

20 September 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal

Many employees still have to endure workplaces that fail to support their basic working day, obstructing their ability to positively contribute to the business they work for.


Findings from a global report based on the evaluation results from more than 250,000 employees across 2,200-plus workplaces in 67 countries by Leesman, an assessor of workplace effectiveness, show that 43 per cent of employees globally do not agree that their workplace enables them to work productively.


In the UK, that figure jumps to 46 per cent. Therefore, in line with ONS employment figures, for more than 1.3 million UK workers the office is simply not good enough.


The report points to five key areas that organisations should focus on.


  • • The top productivity killers: offices are routinely presenting barriers to daily work that affect everything from how proud people are to be there, to how much they actually enjoy working there. The features that have the biggest impact on employees’ ability to work productively are ‘space between work settings’, ‘dividers’ and ‘noise levels’.
  • • The most demanding generation: millennials repeatedly show themselves to have the simplest workloads and thus the narrowest set of requirements. Attention should instead be directed at those in the 35 to 44 age band who consistently record the lowest satisfaction scores, and typically have more complex roles.
  • •  The winner of the open-plan versus private office debate: the research shows that both open-plan and cellular solutions can be equally good and bad. Across 2,200-plus workplaces surveyed, employees in the highest-performing locations will almost certainly be in an open-plan setting – so demonising this way of working is not the way forward.
  • • Workplace transformation projects are not always transformative: with the vast capital sums invested in refurbishment and relocation fit-out projects, leadership teams would be forgiven for expecting them to deliver significant operational benefit. But evidence shows this not always to be the case.
  • • Workplace + Behaviour = Effectiveness: based on Leesman’s research across 11,336 employees in 40 ‘activity-based’ workplaces (where employees can select a series of different spaces that best supports the particular activity being undertaken), these employees rarely work in an activity-based way. So employees don’t just change the working habits of a lifetime because employers tell them to.



Dr Peggie Rothe PhD, who led the research said: “Great organisations build a business framework that enable their employees to do their best work. And the workplace is integral in this equation. Offices are assets – tools in talent management strategies, gears in product innovation, instruments in brand development and organisational performance. The central findings of this study should concentrate attentions on how workplace strategies can support business competitiveness, not by cost mitigation but through increasing employee engagement, loyalty and output.”


Tim Oldman, Leesman’s CEO, added: “What this report demonstrates is that there is still more that organisations need to be doing if they’re going to leverage the workplace as a source of competitive advantage and a booster of organisational performance.


“We still see far too many workplaces that are simply not fit for purpose and that represents a huge missed opportunity for business leaders. We hope that the key central findings can help more organisations create better, more productive environments for their workforce.”