Almost a third of workers believe office design negatively impacts their productivity

18 July 2016

A study released by Savills and the British Council for Offices (BCO) has revealed that 28% of office employees think that the current design of their workplace makes them less productive. If they were able to work in their ‘ideal’ working environment, however, 53% of employees say that their productivity would increase.

The What Workers Want report also highlights that noise is a significant issue in the office, with 77% of employees saying that noise levels are important or very important to them, rising to 83% for those over the age of 55. Surprisingly, those who currently work in a ‘private’ office attach slightly more importance to noise levels than those who work in an open plan office – 79% of the former said they are important, opposed to 76% of the latter. Only 45% of those who work in an open plan environment are happy with noise levels, compared to 59% of those who work in a ‘private’ office.

The poll of 1,132 office workers across the UK investigates the factors that are important to employees in the workplace, and how much they believe that their current environment satisfies those requirements.
According to What Workers Want, there seems to be a significant mismatch between employees and organisations’ priorities in the workplace: while 43% of employees are satisfied with the open plan space in their offices, only 23% think that providing this is actually important. Conversely, 71% of all workers (whether in an open plan or private office) think that having a ‘quiet space for focused work’ is important, but only 30% are satisfied that this is being provided, leaving a 41% ‘expectation gap’ between what workers want and what their employers provide.


“Productivity in the workplace is vital to support an efficient business and enhance the bottom line, but it is apparent that a lot of employees feel that they are hampered by the environment around them”, says Steve Lang, director in Savills research and author of the report. “While undoubtedly some employees thrive in a buzzy, open office, others are apathetic or find such an environment detrimental to their work. There is never going to be a perfect office, but organisations must create as much choice as possible to enable employees to vary noise levels to meet their needs depending on what they’re working on. There should also be a desk-based solution for minimising noise levels at certain times, beyond simply donning the ubiquitous white headphones.”


Jeremy Bates, head of UK transactional services at Savills, adds: “The What Workers Want results show the importance and potential productivity gain of getting the office fit-out right. Before relocating, occupiers should carry out detailed employee surveys to uncover their employees most productive work environments, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach or following what they perceive to be the latest trends in office design. With so many workers saying that they’re not working to the best of their ability, investing time and energy upfront in ensuring that the office fit-out enhances productivity will pay dividends in the long run.”

Notes to editors:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,132 office workers aged 16 and over. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21st December 2015 - 13th January 2016. The survey was carried out online.

 
 

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Steven Lang

Steven Lang

Director
Commercial Research

Savills Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7409 8738

 

Jeremy Bates

Jeremy Bates

Director
Regional Offices

Savills Margaret Street

+44 (0) 20 7409 8813