The Leader Magazine

MAR 2018

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38 MARCH 2018 t H e le A de R s tudy results redefine how we measure the workplace: 1. Having mentally and physically fit employees is a prerequisite of profitable companies, and there is a direct link between the workplace and profitability. 2. The link between the workplace and productivity isn't necessarily a direct one. Improvements in productivity that are attributable to workplace practices are likely to be achieved through direct improvements to creativity, innovation, etc. This, in turn, leads to uplifts in productivity and, consequently, profitability. 3. The traditional measure of success is profitability, BUT there are only a few overlaps between the characteristics of a profitable and productive company. 4. There are more overlaps between productive and innovative companies. 5. While absenteeism has been a traditional business metric, this has now reached a historic low and productivity levels continue to fall. Should we increasingly be looking at factors, such as wellness in the workplace, that can reduce levels of presenteeism? 6. Have we possibly failed to appreciate the importance of creativity- and innovation-enhancing elements in the workplace? 7. It could be that facilitating innovative thinking will engender improvements in productivity as well as be a key driver of businesses' profitability. benefit to the most successful organisations. Lighting systems that adapt their colour tone as the day progresses feature in some of most productive companies and those that consider themselves to be highly innovative or creative. Lighting that is responsive to circadian rhythms is the next major innovation in lighting technology, and we will begin to see its wider adoption across all sectors where people work, socialise, and meet over the coming years. 3. Personal storage When asked what one thing they'd change about their workplace storage, more than a quarter of survey respondents said they'd like more personal storage within reach. Employees are taking more and more expensive items to work with them, such as gym kits, cycling gear and tech, so it is unsurprising that people want to keep them close by throughout the day. Local banks of lockers can help organisations achieve this. Colleagues encroaching on personal space was placed at No. 2 in the list of major office distractions. Untidy desks, shared spaces, and hunting for stationery were other common bothersome disruptions, and one in four employees are distracted by the smell of colleagues' sports kits. Additionally, the most reserved among us tend to be the most easily distracted. There is a clear link between personal space and storage; 53 percent of employees still desire their own desk, but these days this is far from guaranteed. Giving all employees – whether permanent, mobile or nomadic – individual stowage, as well as providing plenty of functional office storage, will help them to maintain a sense of control and belonging while at work and, therefore, contribute to positive mental wellbeing. 4. Noise and acoustics Shrieks of laughter, conversations of variable volume, and traffic are all distracting. And being listened to while on the phone is an annoyance. Providing quiet working spaces is one of the most important characteristics of companies that consider themselves to be highly innovative or creative. Quiet spaces are also important for highly productive companies. The availability of quiet spaces is found to be one of the biggest differentiators between high- and low-performing companies. However, having a space where staff can openly talk and discuss ideas is also important and not as counter-intuitive as it might seem. Companies that have noisier areas where staff can choose to work together and collaborate have considerably more profit than those who don't encourage it; this emphasises how important choice is for employees. 5. Air quality Not only is fresh air the single most successful way for mitigating dips in concentration, but the survey showed it to be one of the biggest differentiating factors of the most productive and innovative or creative companies. Good-quality ventilation and air movement is, therefore, a vital characteristic of a healthy office. 6. Empowerment, profitability and wellness Companies can make their staff feel empowered in a host of ways, and this can have significant outcomes for the business. The act of consulting with staff is a major differentiator between high- and low-performing companies. This suggests that consulting with employees on issues of importance will lead to greater profitability. However, employees won't necessarily choose the aspects that are used by the most profitable companies without guidance and awareness of their impact. Letting staff feel more empowered will bring with it the associated benefits, as the 'Pygmalion effect' of greater expectations driving greater performance comes into play. The role of an expert guiding staff choice is essential, and yet only just over half the respondents feel they have, for example, adequate control over their comfort conditions (the temperature being too high is one of the topmost distractions reported). Thus, the importance of workers being able to influence their environment can be underestimated by senior staff. Companies that commissioned the Wellness Together research were BDG architecture + design, Bisley, FUTURE Designs, Hoare Lea, Humanscale, and Woven Image.

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