Half of British offices are not fit for purpose

A new report released by Leesman, the world’s leading assessor of workplace effectiveness, analyses how organisations can better support employees by offering an office environment that actually works.

Today, Leesman launches ‘The Next 250k’, a global report based on the evaluation results from more than 250,000 employees across 2,200+ workplaces in 67 countries. The study looks at how a poorly planned workplace can have a negative impact on employees, inhibiting their ability to perform. The data reveals a shocking level of dissatisfaction among the workforce.

The findings show that while employers continue to face economic uncertainty, many of their employees are having to endure workplaces that fail to support their basic working day, obstructing their ability to positively contribute to business success.

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 over 1.3 million UK workers, the office is simply not good enough.

The report points to five key areas that organisations need to focus on:

The top productivity killers: offices are routinely presenting barriers to daily work that impact 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 35-44 age band who consistently record the lowest satisfaction scores, and typically have more complex roles.

The winner of the open-plan v. private office debate: the research shows that both open-plan and cellular solutions can be equally good and bad. Across 2,200+ workplaces surveyed, employees in the highest performing locations will almost certainly be sat 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 to not always 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. In short, 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 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.”

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