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22 March 2019
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9 October 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal


Half of British offices are 'not fit for purpose' as 43 per cent of employees think their workplace does not aid productivity. Herpreet Grewal reports

Findings from a global report by Leesman, a corporate workplace assessor, based on the evaluation results from more than 250,000 employees across 2,200-plus workplaces in 67 countries show that 43 per cent of employees globally think their workplace does not aid productivity.

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.

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.”

Tim Oldman, Leesman’s CEO, added: “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.”  

Productivity killers

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

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 because these employees consistently record the lowest satisfaction scores – but typically have more complex roles.

The winner of the open-plan versus private office debate: the research reveals 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 necessarily 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.

On the workplace + Behaviour = Effectiveness equation: 

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 at any one time), these employees will rarely work in an activity-based way. So employees don’t just change the working habits of a lifetime because employers tell them to.