Higher education workers' desire for quiet challenges universities move towards open plan - Savills

24 May 2017

80% of higher education workers say that having a quiet space for focused work is important to them, but only 34% are highly satisfied with the current availability of quiet areas in their offices, according to research from Savills.

Of those respondents who are employed in higher education establishments, 92% said that they are employed in an office environment. Of these 46% work in private offices opposed to open-plan. This compares to just 21% of workers in the wider UK sample, says Savills.

Academic workers spend far more time on the phone than their counterparts in other industries, according to Savills research. 24% of respondents from the education sector said they spend over half of their working day making or receiving calls, far above the 2% of other UK office workers who also said they spend this proportion of time on the phone.

University modernisation programmes therefore need to ensure that workers are given greater access to workspaces where they can focus on quiet work, according to the international real estate advisor.

Steve Lang, director in the commercial research team at Savills, says: “Given the amount of time those in higher education spend making calls it’s not surprising that having quiet spaces where they can concentrate and have confidential conversations is so important. The private office can serve this purpose, but the trade off is that they often use space inefficiently and don’t suit modern ways of working, and evidently even some of our respondents who have an office are still dissatisfied with the availability of quiet spaces on campus.

“Many university modernisation programmes are therefore rightly looking to reconfigure layouts to provide office spaces that are more suitable to evolving needs. But it’s imperative designers give workers a choice of quiet areas s to use when necessary, even if the majority of the time they share a workspace.”

Savills asked workers to assign importance to a variety of different factors associated with their working environment, then to state how their current office satisfies these requirements. View the top 20 lists here.  


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