Gensler 2016 UK Workplace Survey

We recently looked at a survey by Oxford Economics which highlighted the fact that millennials crave a bit of peace as much as any other employee. Despite the fact that the open-plan office design trend is often cited as appealing to them.

Global design and architecture firm, Gensler, (whose Boeing project we highlighted in WorldWideWorkplaces) conducted their own global workplace survey across the US, Asia and Europe. Their 2016 UK Workplace Survey found that the 1,200 UK office workers they spoke to were just as critical of poorly designed open-plan offices.

Workplace Innovation

The purpose of the survey was to explore the relationship between workplace performance and innovation.

They wanted to show how key aspects of workplace design could improve levels of creativity and innovation. And, when done correctly, could drive new innovation in a way that could be measured.

Here’s what they found:

The Problem - Haves & Have Nots

In much the same way the Oxford Economics survey spoke about a management disconnect, Gensler saw a gulf between managers and other members of staff.

They found that 89% in a senior leadership position had a private office. This compared to just 23% in lower level positions.

The Solution – Spaces for roles, not status

People who reported that space in their office was allocated according to the job at hand also reported an improved experience in the workplace.

Make sure workspaces match employee’s needs rather than their seniority.

The Problem – Poorly designed open-plan offices

The open-plan culture has certainly been embraced in the UK, with over 8 million employees working in one. Unfortunately, the survey found that they don’t think this approach is supporting the way they want to work.

The data showed that open-plan environments can be just as effective, if not more effective, as more enclosed ones. However, a lack of alternative spaces for work doesn’t allow them to work effectively.

The Solution – More choice

Give employees more spaces to choose from so that they can find the place that best suits their needs. As a result, their satisfaction and performance are likely to improve.

For example, staff with higher innovation scores were seen to use sit/stand desks three times more often than those with lower scores.

Variety is the spice of work

With two separate surveys delivering very similar results, it’s clear that the approach we highlighted at one of our 2015 Thought Leadership Events is still more than relevant.

The concept of a welcoming workplace, focussing on areas of collaboration, concentration and contemplation tackles this very issue. An office design with a mixture of open plan spaces and closed rooms offers the kind of choice that employees clearly want.

Ultimately, the Gensler survey concludes that the open office isn’t necessarily for everyone and that an enclosed office isn’t necessarily the enemy. We couldn’t agree more. It all boils down to creating a space that recognises the specific needs of your staff. Because one size certainly does not fit all.

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