Offices Need to Change – Part 2

In our last blog, we brought you some findings from a survey by Oxford Economics which showed that many workers were less than happy with their open-plan offices.  They said they lacked places for focussed work.  They reported a negative impact on satisfaction, productivity, and well-being.  The same survey found 75% of workers needed to go for walks to get their focus back.  As many as 32% used headphones in order to block out distraction.  It can take as much as 20 minutes to get back into a productive train of thought.  Employers really need to change about this.  Especially those with high-performing employees, who sort out the most difficult problems and come up with the most innovative ideas.  These need to change. People need a special place to concentrate on their work, undisturbed.  Most employees, whether ‘high-performing’ or not will from time to time need to make a call to pitch a business proposition or clear up some misunderstanding, during which they need all their sensitivity and spontaneity.  They may not have their own room all the time but they need somewhere they can use.

Savills, the estate agents commissioned a more recent survey from You Gov in 2019, ‘What Workers Want’.  The results showed, broadly, that employees were happier with their workplaces than they had been at the time of a previous survey in 2016.  This reflected a greater concern for their welfare on the part of the companies they worked for.  However, it did not mean that they thought they were more productive.  According to the survey, 32% said the design or layout of their offices harmed their productivity, citing noise and hot-desking.  In fact, the percentage of hot-deskers who said the way their office was arranged damaged their productivity rose to 45%.

There will not be much hot-desking for a while but clearly, to return to the general point, a variety of spaces is required, catering for different work styles all with the right technology.  Employees need to be able to control their stress and noise levels. They need the means to vary the amount of time they mix with others and the time they spend on their own.