Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

UK offices lack the features needed to boost productivity and wellbeing

Office Genie has discovered Britain’s workplaces are in need of a makeover, with many not catering to employees’ needs. Workspaces are lacking distinct, tailor-made areas that could enable employees to work more effectively - particularly introverted workers.

After surveying 1,456 British office workers, it was revealed the majority of workplaces do not have areas that aid lone-working (67%), offer privacy (54%), or opportunities for quiet work (58%). They also do not have spaces that promote collaboration (45%) or provide chill-out areas for staff (74%).

Respondents were asked if their workplace allows them to carry out their work comfortably and 20% stated it does not. Worryingly, of that number, 70% claim it affects their desire to come to work. In terms of improved wellbeing and productivity, chill-out areas, quiet areas, and private spaces are top of workers’ lists.

The findings showed quiet areas and private spaces would be of particular benefit to introverts in the office. Nearly a third (30%) of those identifying as introverts [1] believe a quiet area would help with their wellbeing, compared to 22% of extroverts. Introverts believe private work stations would provide a boost to productivity: 24%, compared to 17% of extroverts. When a large percentage of the workforce identify as introverts (41%) [1], this is clearly worth bearing in mind.

Robert Hicks, Group HR Director at global employee engagement company Reward Gateway, offers his insight: “An engaged employee knows the company’s purpose, mission and objectives. In turn, they make better decisions for the company, are more productive and innovate more. Studies have shown that workplace satisfaction correlates highly with engagement; the most engaged employees rate their workplace in the 90th percentile.

“The workplace can change and impact productivity, happiness and engagement, both positively and negatively. Changes that alter an employee’s existing behaviours and habits can be incredibly disruptive. Therefore, you need to cater for a variety of behaviours and habits, from introverts to extroverts, as well as consider how to guide employees through any changes you intend to make.”

Gareth Jones, of office furniture manufacturer Kit Out My Office, adds: “Office workers will often spend a large amount of time sat at a desk or in meeting rooms, so it is important that these spaces are designed in a way that the employees like.

“I am not just talking about making a room look prettier, I’m also talking about improving the functionality to cater for everyone’s needs. For example, if you have staff members that want quiet spaces to make phone calls, why not designate a room or perhaps divide a room by creating multiple snugs for people to take their calls privately, without other people listening in.

“In addition to the above, there’s also a strong argument for having breakaway areas for people to have discussions with colleagues. Don’t think of traditional meeting rooms, think of spaces of relaxation by incorporating sofas or armchairs. They are excellent places for relieving stress or making a meeting feel less formal.”