Oct 31, 2017

Offices need more features to boost productivity and wellbeing, claim introverted staff

We’ve recently discovered that UK office workers believe their workspaces aren’t catering to their needs. To boost productivity and wellbeing, staff members want quiet areas, private spaces and chill-out zones, but many offices don’t provide these features.

In our survey of 1,456 working people, it was revealed a significant number of offices are not enabling staff to work effectively. They lack areas that aid lone-working (67%), do not provide private spaces (54%) or areas for quiet work (58%). British workplaces also fail to promote collaborative work (45%) and do not have spaces that encourage staff to relax (74%). 

In terms of wellbeing and productivity, chill-out areas, quiet areas, and private spaces topped the list for everyone. Introverts in particular believe quiet areas and private spaces would be a welcome introduction. Almost a third (30%) of respondents identifying as introverts think a quiet area would benefit their wellbeing, compared to 22% of extroverts. Taking productivity into account, introverts believe private work stations would provide a boost: nearly a quarter of introverts (24%) think this, compared to 17% of extroverts.

More than two thirds (67%) of UK offices are open plan - which goes some of the way to explaining why many workplaces lack these more intimitate areas. When respondents were asked if they think their workplace allows them to carry out their work comfortably, 20% stated it does not. Of that number, a worrying 70% claimed it impacts their desire to come to work.

We asked Robert Hicks, Group HR Director at global employee engagement company Reward Gateway, to provide his insight: 

“An engaged employee knows the company’s purpose, mission and objectives. In turn, they make better decisions for the company, are more productive and innovate more. Studies have shown that workplace satisfaction correlates highly with engagement; the most engaged employees rate their workplace in the 90th percentile.

“The workplace can change and impact productivity, happiness and engagement, both positively and negatively. Changes that alter an employee’s existing behaviours and habits can be incredibly disruptive. Therefore, you need to cater for a variety of behaviours and habits, from introverts to extroverts, as well as consider how to guide employees through any changes you intend to make.”

For an alternative office-space take on the matter, Gareth Jones, of Kit Out My Office, gave us his opinion: 

“I believe there is nothing more important to a business than employee happiness. An unhappy workforce could cause hurt feelings, performance issues and ultimately high stress levels. No business wants any of these, as it could ultimately damage their bottom line. Office workers will often spend a large amount of time sat at a desk or in meeting rooms, so it is important that these spaces are designed in a way that the employees like.

“I am not just talking about making a room look prettier, I’m also talking about improving the functionality to cater for everyone’s needs. For example, if you have staff members that want quiet spaces to make phone calls, why not designate a room or perhaps divide a room by creating multiple snugs for people to take their calls privately, without other people listening in.

“In addition to the above, there’s also a strong argument for having breakaway areas for people to have discussions with colleagues. Don’t think of traditional meeting rooms, think of spaces of relaxation by incorporating sofas or armchairs. They are excellent places for relieving stress or making a meeting feel less formal."

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