Based on your latest research and expertise, what would you say are the biggest productivity killers in a workplace?
Definitely noise. We see in our research repeatedly, that people are extremely dissatisfied with noise levels in the environment surrounding them. This also counts for some of the best performing workplaces we measure. Often the dilemma relates to an open office environment that does not offer variety in workspace including zones for quietness and concentration.
This goes hand in hand with the second productivity killer I would like to mention – namely variety. We see in our research and across many organizations that the workplace isn’t supporting all the activities people are engaging themselves with throughout a day. This can make the work itself quite ineffective.
So how can Facility and Corporate Real Estate Managers work to kill the productivity killers?
It all starts with an assessment of; what is not working. When that is laid out consider the behavior. In some cases, there might be nothing wrong with the design – but rather the way people are using the workspace. Sit down with the end-users and learn to understand, why they use the space as they do and invest efforts in educating how to make better use of the variety of space. Sometimes it could be that employees misuse the quiet rooms by occupying them as their own offices; which can negatively impact their colleagues.
Communicating the workspace setting and how to best make use of it is therefore of crucial importance.
Finally, our research shows that being able to do your individual work has a bigger impact on the perception of being able to work productively. For a Corporate Real Estate or Facility Manager it may be worthwhile considering how to support that way of thinking while not compromising the value of collaboration in the workplace.
Now we’ve discussed the productivity killers and factors that cause the most dissatisfaction, what do your survey respondents normally see as being the most important features in the workplace?
These are some very basic things.
- Desk & Chair – basic but important. Most companies are on top of that.
- Tea, Coffee and Refreshments – supporting both individual work and social interactions.
- Temperature control – unfortunately this feature is often lagging.
Your CoreNet Global Summit session questioned whether there is a workplace that works for everyone. Is there?
No, I don’t think there is one workplace solution that works for all organizations and all employees.
If we want to come near that illusion however, I think we need to consider the variety of workspace we offer. The higher the level of variety – the bigger the chance that you can suit the needs of many different employees and ways of working.
But there is also a tipping point here. If you provide too many options in working space – people get confused about how to work, where to work and how to use the space. So it really is about striking a balance, which again comes back to understanding people and what they do.