The Stoddart Evaluate, printed in 2016, was probably the most vital studies of current years to discover the position of the office for worker productiveness in in depth element and why the workplace setting was key for productiveness functions. There was an enormous shift on the planet of labor since then. What we as soon as knew because the office has modified eternally.
Within the highest-performing Leesman Index cited within the Stoddart assessment, an unbiased worker expertise benchmarking software, 86 p.c of workers agreed that their office enabled them to work productively. This dropped to 64 p.c in 2021, demonstrating the drop in workplace productiveness and desire. Comparably, 84 p.c of house staff surveyed felt best at house, illustrating the shift that has taken place in the case of the perceptions of productiveness within the office now the house is a viable choice.
A Nicholas Bloom examine from 2015, earlier than the Stoddart Evaluate, additionally discovered that workers who opted into work-from-home insurance policies noticed a 13 p.c carry of their productiveness. Plainly the place we work just isn’t the important thing, however slightly that larger autonomy conjures up smarter, productive working.
How can we use the workplace, and does it distract us?
One of many key statistics from the Stoddart Evaluate that doesn’t ring true right this moment is that 91 p.c of UK workers work solely from the workplace. The Centre for Cities revealed in Might 2023 that solely 14 p.c of staff reported working within the workplace 5 days every week. Nevertheless, the Stanford Institute WFH analysis report acknowledged that 12.7 p.c of full-time workers do business from home, and 28.2 p.c work in a hybrid mannequin.
This means that greater than half of UK staff are working from the workplace full time. It’s value noting, nevertheless, that the Stanford Institute analysis didn’t differentiate contractors, the self-employed, or part-time staff in its examine and acknowledges that the definition of the “workplace” stretches past the white-collared job, making this deceptive. One of many researchers instructed Fortune journal: “There are lots of individuals in that pattern that do frontline jobs, for instance in retail, manufacturing, or inns and eating places, they usually naturally don’t do business from home due to the character of these jobs”.
A 2008 examine discovered that individuals are distracted each 4 minutes within the workplace, with the highest offenders being our co-workers, noise, smartphone notifications, and emails. The identical examine concluded that it takes the typical worker 23 minutes to get full focus again on a process after they’re interrupted. Whereas our emails and telephones do comply with us house, the shortage of human interruptions and noise means the house working setting poses considerably fewer distractions.
The workplace design conundrum
The Stoddart Evaluate information confirmed that noise ranges are the primary inhibitor of productiveness, with solely 30 p.c of workplace staff glad with present ranges. Not a lot has modified, with Nigel Oseland’s new analysis, The Engaging Workplace, highlighting that the workplace remains to be performing poorly on so-called ‘hygiene components’ equivalent to noise air pollution and visible privateness.
Oseland determines that allotted desks are a very good motivation to have extra individuals within the workplace and that organisations seeking to transition to a hotdesking system ought to take into consideration the influence the transfer can have on their workers. There’s a shift taking place the place workers are being commanded to come back again to the workplace, however once they arrive, they don’t really feel there’s an area for them to work.
Coca-Cola and poor design
We now have additionally seen new workplace designs create office challenges lately. The Stoddart Evaluate offered a fantastic analogy for this. When Coca-Cola launched “New Cola”, it was solely sipped by testers a couple of times. Nevertheless, you don’t sip a cola a couple of times, you drink the entire can. As soon as the brand new recipe was on the cabinets, the corporate obtained greater than 400,000 buyer complaints they usually needed to revert to the outdated recipe.
The identical mistake is arguably being made right this moment. Senior decision-makers are pushing forward with out the views of those that will use the area. By solely seeing a snapshot of what the area will appear to be, aesthetics can dominate choices. Paul Urmston of NatWest mentioned this phenomenon on the 2022 Office Tendencies convention, whereby leaders should not contemplating the precise day-to-day wants of their groups when redesigning their area, leading to new workplace areas that workers don’t know easy methods to utilise. Higher change administration is required as the shortage of communication round workplace redesign permeates office productiveness and satisfaction.
The place we stand in 2024
The psychology and tutorial strategy of the Stoddart Evaluate nonetheless rings true right this moment. We want a human-centric strategy to the office. The pandemic has heightened this as a precedence, each for supporting productiveness and to attempt to get individuals again to the office once more.
ISS reported final yr that just about two-thirds of world companies are at present investing of their workplace. It’s crucial that that is performed strategically, in any other case the adjustments could not have the specified influence.
Not too long ago, the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics reported that UK output per hour within the three months to September final yr was 0.3 p.c beneath the identical quarter a yr in the past. This brings our present degree of labour productiveness to simply 2.5 p.c above its degree within the final quarter of 2019 earlier than the pandemic. This tells us that productiveness has grown by no less than 1 p.c for the reason that Stoddart assessment in 2016, though it’s tough to pin down the explanation for the expansion.
A brand new version of the Stoddart Evaluate would provide a deep dive into the realities of working from house and what the measurement of ‘productiveness’ means within the 2020s. For the people who find themselves selecting to come back to the workplace, we have to ask the query of why? Finally, productiveness is an entirely private factor, to a person, and a enterprise.