UK companies are failing to build a culture of well-being and risking lower productivity, according to a study released today.
The survey of 2,000 UK office workers by the British Council for Offices (BCO), Morgan Lovell and Hatch investigated working conditions, attitudes and expectations. While three quarters of employees believe that the design of their workplace supports their physical wellbeing, more than half (54%) said their corporate culture does not, constraining productivity. The report says companies need to focus on the key areas of care, control and collaboration.
It found that nine out of ten (87%) workers feel their wellbeing diminishes if they don’t have control over their day-to-day activities. They want the flexibility and control to mix collaboration with colleagues with quiet moments of concentration to help them get ‘in the zone’.
Currently over three quarters (77%) of people feel they are hampered by a noisy open-plan environment and a further 27% are frustrated by a lack of privacy, while 69% would like to see relaxation areas in their workplace. Companies can meet this need for control by offering employees flexibility and choice in how and where they work and trusting them to decide their own working patterns, said the report.
It added that almost all employees (94%) experience greater well-being if they believe their job has meaning and have support from colleagues. The growth of remote working grows means companies need to embrace connectivity to ensure that employees have the tools to work, discuss and innovate together no matter where they are. The survey found that 58% believe virtual connectivity contributes to wellbeing, contrary to popular belief.
Richard Kauntze, chief executive of the British Council for Offices, said: “It is widely accepted that wellbeing in the workplace drives productivity, but the findings of this research mean we can go one step further and pinpoint the cultural factors that companies must address in order to translate this theory into reality. The research points to the office as the centre of working life still and while we’ve seen real physical improvements, companies and those who help them design and manage their workspaces must be more progressive and seize every opportunity to make the physical office the embodiment of a positive workplace culture.”
Monica Parker, workplace director at Morgan Lovell, added: “These insights show how crucial it is for businesses to integrate behavioural data into how offices are designed. A comfortable physical environment helps, but to deliver a greater return on investment, workplaces need to be aligned with a culture of wellbeing that is uniquely suited to the business and the people on which it depends.”
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We couldn’t agree more with the findings. However, there is no obvious outline on how to enable these more proactive cultures. A team of designers and architects would need to consult the office manager or MD to establish the requirements for the space and roles of the staff. Once the necessities have been established further development of specific areas, be it open plan or individual desk pods can be allocated per role. We wrote a blog on collaboration in the work place and how it enables natural serendipity which studies have shown to increase productivity and staff relations. You can read it here: http://www.spacespace.co.uk/collision-theory-collaboration-and-the-business-of-serendipity/