Three reasons office design changes can dramatically grow productivity

Written by
Jitesh Patel

15 Jun 2017

15 Jun 2017 • by Jitesh Patel

Employers that recognise employees as their biggest asset understand that recruiting and retaining top talent is of utmost importance. The office environment is increasingly acknowledged as playing a fundamental role in this. A recent survey we conducted revealed that 86% of workers say the office environment is important when choosing a place to work while 97% of respondents said they regarded their place of work as a symbol of whether they were valued or not. Despite this compelling evidence, many companies are still not investing the adequate time and resources into ensuring their workplace is suitable for their employees.

Highlight organisational culture and vision

The first glimpse at a company’s layout or design is often seen as an introduction to that company’s personality. In addition to keeping employees happy in the workplace, office design also demonstrates the company’s vision and culture. 

Our survey found that about one in three (32%) respondents don’t believe their workplace has a strong brand identity, which can create a loss of connection with the larger vision of what the company is trying to achieve. Additional research from Leesman on employee happiness and wellbeing found that more than half (54%) of workers believe that an office environment has a direct impact on workplace culture and 85% cited office design as important to them. 

To really highlight a company’s vision, the office space must be designed from start to finish in a way that employees feel they are living that vision on a daily basis. This is not just simply slapping a logo on the door, but taking a strategic look at how the company vision can be expressed, as well as a genuine curiosity into what makes employees tick and how to get their best effort on a daily basis. Whether it is changing wall colours, adding greenery and breakout rooms or introducing free breakfasts, little changes can have a big effect on company culture. 

Increase engagement and productivity

Employee wellbeing and how it affects productivity has become a chronic issue in the workplace. When over a third of your day is spent in the office, ensuring the space benefits the mental wellbeing of your employees should be a top priority. 

Employees’ health and happiness can have detrimental effects on workplaces that do not have proactive plans in place to ensure the well-being of their employees. In fact, we found that only a quarter of people (26%) say their office environment has a positive effect on their mental health while nine in ten (91%) believe that the office environment has an impact on their productivity. 

While some companies look to do this by providing their employees with more freedom outside of the office, the survey revealed that working outside of an office makes over half (50%) of workers feel stressed and disconnected from their colleagues and two-fifths feel isolated or lonely. 

The same survey also found that 66% of the UK workforce believes that they are most productive working in an office compared with a quarter who say they are most productive working at home. Office space reorganisation can work to ensure companies are getting the most out of their employees and works to reduce absenteeism. Natural lighting (90%), quiet workspaces (82%), social/communal areas (77%) and a variety of workspaces (62%) are some of the top office characteristics employees value at work.

Understand your workforce is multi-generational and meet them in the middle

Today’s workforce includes a variety of generations. Employees over 50 years of age now account for more than 30% of the UK’s working population (9.4million people) and Deloitte predicts that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. However, with differences in age also comes differences in attitudes and motivations in the workplace. In fact, our survey found that two-fifths (42%) of under 25s think social and communal areas in the workplace are very valuable, but only a quarter (24%) of the over 55s believe the same.

While it may seem difficult for employers to balance the need of all of their employees, it is important to understand the needs of the entire workforce. Fortunately, we know some of the key features that employees of different generations value, which include: technology (83% for under 25s and over 55), personal space (80% for under 25s and 89% for over 55) and natural light (83% for under 25s and 87% of the over 50s).  

The office space should no longer be viewed as a simple seating arrangement, but instead should be approached from a strategic view that incorporates the needs of employees and the organisation’s vision and culture. If taken into consideration, the office space can have positive impacts on employees and may have detrimental impacts on the company’s bottom line.