Leesman have reached a significant milestone with their recently released piece of research, The Next 250K. Over the past 5 years, they have interviewed over 250,000 employees in 2,000 workplaces and this report unearths five key factors affecting workplace performance including productivity, millennials, novelty, the open-plan office and employee behaviours.
This research indicates that organisations are not achieving maximum performance from their workplace which should cause ‘alarm bells’ to be ring for any employer. This provides a huge opportunity for leaders to improve their office environments to enable their employees to work more efficiently. Currently too many employees are having to work in offices that fail to support their basic working day and obstructing the ability of individuals to proactively contribute to corporate goals.
The report indicates that one in four workplaces globally are failing to support employees’ sense of personal productivity. Of the 276,422 employees in the research database, 57% agree that their workplace enables them to work productively, 28% disagreeing and 15% sitting neutrally between. It would appear that there is a huge gap in employers failing to understand employees requirements in relation to supporting collaboration and creativity, and occupant density and noise control. In order to create a high performing workplace, all phases and activities that underpin knowledge work need to be deeply understood and well provided for – both individual / concentrative and interactive / collaborative.
The focus recently has been on how we can integrate the new generations into the workforce. However, Leesmans report suggest that those under 25 represent just 4.4% of the workplace population. Not only do they represent the smallest segment of the workplace population, but they also repeatedly show themselves to have the simplest work profiles and thus the narrowest set of requirements. This should alert every Finance Director that is contemplating redesigning their office.
Attention should instead be directed at those in the 35 – 44 year age band, who consistently record the lowest effectiveness scores, or those in the 45 – 54 band who have the most complex work activity patterns, so place the highest demands on the infrastructures provided for them. These two ages brackets account for 56.2% of the workplace population surveyed, therefore presenting the greatest opportunity and the highest risk.
New is no guarantee
The Leesman report challenges the effectiveness of a new office. Many organisations are investing vast capital sums in a refurbishment or relocation fit-out project and are rightfully expect them to deliver significant operational benefit. However the report shows that just 34% of projects are delivering high performance results.
Organisations operating at their fullest potential are those allowing their people to be their best at work. So, workplaces need to be seen clearly as part of the operational infrastructure of work. When designing solutions, the individual’s needs should be placed at the centre, in an employee-centric design that wraps an infrastructure around the employee, responsive to their daily needs. Design teams should do more to draw their clients into partnering in the design process.
The Open Plan Office
The Leesman report surveyed 2,160 workplaces, and when measured against a number of key indicators, employees in the highest performing locations are almost certainly working in an open-plan setting. The report shows that the highest performing workplace has 92% of employees working at a designated open-plan setting. So demonising open plan is just factually incorrect. Organisation should recognise the benefits of open plan settings on key activities like ‘Learning from others’, ‘Informal unplanned meetings’ and ‘Informal social interaction’.
Organisations are increasingly deploying an agile or activity based approach to the design of their office. For some, that has meant supporting or encouraging more remote working, but for others that has resulted in exploring a less territorial use of the corporate workplace. The Leesman research is based on 11,366 employees in 40 agile based’ workplaces, just 29% selected a mobility profile that could be described as exhibiting activity based behaviours. It is a question whether some organisations have imposed an agile environment and promoted the matching practices on teams where the majority of employees have a lower activity complexity profile where the benefits of adoption are minimal, if not counter-productive. In these environments, employees are retaining traditional workplace habits and are then, in effect, working in conflict with the environment around them. Equally it could once again point to underestimating the importance of change management.
If you are considering an office relocation or fit-out project, and would like to better understand your employee requirements, then why not speak to one of our workplace consultants who are trained in analysing and auditing organisations and delivering interiors that are guaranteed to boost productivity and employee engagement.