Businesses underestimate impact of office environment on the bottom line

The quality of office environments influences employee wellbeing and productivity, yet most workers say it is not a high priority for senior management.

Businesses are underestimating the important impact that the office environment can have on their bottom line as the quality of office environments is a significant influence on employee wellbeing and productivity yet the majority of workers say they believe it is not a high priority for senior management. These are the key conclusions of a new survey from workplace consultants and office designers, Peldon Rose.

The survey shows that, while 91 per cent of UK workers believe their office environment directly impacts their productivity, less than half of workers (43 per cent) say that their office environment enhances their productivity, whilst a fifth (20 per cent) say it hinders their productivity.

With two thirds of workers (66 per cent) saying they work more productively in the office than anywhere else, senior management are overlooking a significant opportunity to boost the productivity of their workforce and their company’s overall performance.

Peldon Rose’s findings also reveal that only 32 per cent of workers say their current office environment supports their wellbeing, whilst 59 per cent say their company could do more to make their office healthier. At a time when 76 per cent of workers are stating that they have suffered from workplace stress, businesses should ensure they are doing all that they can to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees.

Despite the clear importance of the office environment for the productivity and wellbeing of staff, 81 per cent of workers feel that the workplace is not a high priority for their senior management team.

When it comes to discussing office space with management, employees feel their concerns often go unnoticed, with only 29 per cent believing that their opinion is valued, despite 70 per cent of workers saying that greater employee involvement in decisions about the workplace would have a positive impact on their productivity.

All this suggests that employers that do not engage workers in decisions about their work environment maybe missing important opportunities to improve their performance.

Currently, only a small percentage of employees are involved in discussions around problems with the office layout (10 per cent), however these conversations are important to employees who feel that environmental changes could have a big impact on their emotional wellbeing at work, including their motivation (73 per cent), mood and productivity (70 per cent) and happiness (66 per cent).

To ensure that businesses provide workplaces that support the productivity and wellbeing of their employees, Peldon Rose suggests senior management teams take a number of key steps, including:

Analyse your workplace

Businesses should properly evaluate the way their office works to understand how efficiencies and improvements can be made to aide employee wellbeing and productivity. A space utilisation study analyses how space in the workplace is used, how employees like to work in the space and whether the space is currently being used effectively. The data produced from this process enables a business to make targeted improvements to the workspace, based on how their employees use it.

Understand core drivers

When businesses are considering improvements to the workplace, senior management teams must be clear on the core drivers behind this.

Employees should be the chief consideration in changes to the workplace, but financial motivations, such as cost savings, and operational motivations, including growing workforces and efficiency drives, are also important drivers to identify from the outset. Understanding the motivations behind changes to the office environment ensures that the desired result is achieved.

Engage employees

Without engaging with employees, businesses will not be able to ensure that their office supports the workforce. Giving employees the opportunity to share their views on how the workplace would work best for them and translating this feedback into operational changes, offers businesses the chance to boost productivity, motivation and wellbeing.

As the average UK worker spends over 1,647 hours a year at work and replacing staff costs UK businesses about £4 billion a year, ensuring that employees are happy and productive should be a main focus for all employers to keep turnover costs low and retention of top talent high.

Factors such as on-boarding, training, interview costs, advertising and the impact on the wider company’s morale will all force employers to compensate for high turnover rates and unproductive employees.

Jitesh Patel, chief executive, Peldon Rose, the office design specialists, comments, ‘Workers are clearly stating that the workplace environment has an impact on their productivity and wellbeing and senior management that overlook this do so potentially at a significant cost to their business. One of the most critical roles of senior management is to listen to their team, specifically to their insight and advice to ensure their employees feel supported and motivated.

‘According to our survey, senior management teams are overlooking the opportunity to directly engage with their employees to find out how they can improve the work space and enhance the performance of their staff.’

Patel adds, ‘We know that when employees are happy at work, they are more likely to be productive, engaged and dedicated to the company while employees who are unengaged can cost a company significantly in employee turnover, training costs and low productivity.

‘With close to 70 per cent of workers reporting that they are most productive in the office than anywhere else, it is vital that the office environment allows them to work towards their highest potential every day.

‘Employers should remember that office design and how people work is constantly evolving and your office design needs to keep pace with your workforce and their needs. Listening to employees to remain in touch with what they want will help ensure your workforce remains happy, healthy and motivated’.

Further reading on office environment

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