The Science of Workplace Design.™
The Science of Workplace Design.™

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Counter the productivity crisis and use your workplace as an asset.

Andrew Bartlett, Director

We’re in the middle of a productivity crisis and it’s getting worse.

 

Despite UK organisations increasing the number of new hires in recent years, output isn’t following suit and the country’s productivity is now well behind its G7 counterparts[1].

Market pressures and increased competition, evolving technologies and enhanced mobility, changing employee expectations, the recruitment challenges created by a global talent shortage and the fear of further economic instability are all having a cumulative negative effect. It’s not surprising then that the ability to get more output from the same amount of labour and capital is the single biggest driver in improving business performance. A 1% uplift in UK productivity would equate to an increase of almost £20billion in GDP, a reduction of £8billion to the UK government’s deficit and an annual profit increase of almost £3.5billion[2].  Yet as business leaders put performance under the microscope, they are still failing to recognise two of the most critical components in unlocking greater productivity:  people and workplace.

Businesses often look to improve the recruitment process, staff training and incentives in a bid to address productivity, but ignore the power of the physical and virtual environments their people occupy. Those that do think about environment, do so reactively, with lease events, refurbishment schedules and M&A activity determining the timing of their property decision-making. This lack of strategic workplace consideration presents the biggest risk to productivity.  The link between people, performance and place is irrefutable so to give place so little thought is to ignore its capacity to deliver change i.e. to heighten productivity.

Deriving strategic value from the workplace requires an acute appreciation of what it really is – not bricks and mortar, but the engine room of your operation. It’s only by understanding the relationship between people, place, technology and tools, that you can begin to see where the weaknesses and opportunities lie in relation to productivity in your business.

Organisations seeking productivity gains may be tempted to demand more of their workforce, but this is not the answer.  The golden opportunity lies in investing in and using intelligence about behaviours, wants and needs to find ways to motivate and engage employees.  It is widely noted that an engaged workforce is more productive and that employees who are happy, supported and motivated are more likely to give the extra discretionary effort that could see productivity spike.   This same business intelligence also underpins strategic workplace design as it informs every design decision and ensures the result is fit for the organisation’s goals. Whether the intention is to improve collaboration to bring products to market faster, heighten loyalty to reduce staff attrition, streamline processes to find efficiencies or simply ensure the workspace has enough flexibility for the future, clear organisational goals provide the foundations for productive workplaces.

The reactive way some organisations view workplace decision-making is outdated, ill-advised and costly. By giving the workplace only periodic consideration, people, process, potential and productivity will be compromised.  Instead, it is time for organisations to see the workplace as productivity-enabler. The most productive workplaces are living and breathing environments, consistently evaluated and incrementally changed to ensure they remain aligned with the organisation’s overarching goals and keep the fires of productivity stoked.  The workspace alone does not have the power to plug the productivity gap, but combined with improvements to process efficiency, skills, employee engagement and operations and there is potential for transformative change.  If just a 1% increase in national productivity could deliver £20billion[3] to the economy, it’s time to ask yourself what small incremental changes could mean for your business too.

 

Download a copy of the Strategic Value of The Workplace white paper.

The white paper provides information about how to understand the workplace needs of your organisation and how detailed research can unlock greater strategic value, particularly in relation to workplace transformation, and is aimed at those about to embark on a project.

 

1 Report by Office for National Statistics 

2 Taken from Raconteur – December 12th 2016

3 Taken from Raconteur – December 12th 2016

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