Workplace survey reveals shift in employee working habits

Workplace survey reveals shift in employee working habits


Gensler’s 2008 Workplace survey reveals that top performing companies are embracing a fundamental restructuring of office work with workplaces that place as much emphasis on collaboration, learning and socialising as on individual head-down, focus work. The link between workplace design and business performance has long been established – the survey reinforces this fact revealing, on average, organisations that invest in good office design generate an increase of five per cent in annual profit compared to companies with underperforming workplaces.  

However, previously unexplored is that the best workplaces embrace each of these four work modes equally and respect them with the same regard. Habits of the modern workforce have changed. The findings depict work today as dynamic and complex and therefore employees can no longer be associated with long hours of sedentary and solitary work.  

The report shows that a workplace designed to support all four of the work modes – focus, collaboration, learning and socialising – would result in an overall productivity increase of 21%. Translated nationwide, this increase in employee productivity would boost the UK’s service sector output by £145bn per annum.  

The survey shows employees at top-ranked companies are spending more time collaborating and less time in focus work than average companies. Likewise, ‘top’ companies are over four times more likely to promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing over ‘average’ companies (55% vs. 12%); consider collaboration twice as crucial (40% vs. 18%) and place twice as much emphasis on the importance of learning (49% vs. 19%). 

Similarly, top companies invest more resources fostering and developing social networks. Perceived in the past as a time-waster rather than an asset, socialising is now seen to play a crucial role in nurturing internal communication channels, enabling greater speed and flexibility of interaction throughout the organisation.  

Gary Wheeler, Gensler’s European director of Workspace, commented: “Our findings provide a more insightful look at the complex equation of what creates value in the workplace. Focused, head-down work can be improved and greater economic value derived from the right combination of accommodating each of four work modes. 

As companies brace themselves for an economic slowdown, a better designed workplace can help organisations do more with less.”  

The Workplace Performance Index Survey results have shown that a workplace designed to support each of the four work modes would benefit from a 21% increase in employee productivity. Ongoing research aligned with the Workplace Survey has enabled Gensler to pinpoint organisational inefficiencies and utilise this knowledge to develop the ‘Workplace Performance Index’ (WIP), a unique pre-and-post occupancy evaluation tool that sheds light on workers’ satisfaction and how they use their workspace.  

Gensler dispatch PDA-wielding data gatherers to different work locations throughout the organisation to record who sits where, what they do and for how long. The studies uncover the similarities that geographically distributed employees share about the company and identifies how and where efficiency and synergy improvements can be made. Supported by interactive surveys and questionnaires, the results typically reveal that an organisation is running at 50-70% below potential capacity.

The results are stored on a global database whereby designers and clients can compare Effectiveness of their workplace in relation to:

  • Top ranked companies -Benchmarks within their industry
  • Business goals and objectives  
  • Employee satisfaction and productivity/effectiveness
  • The way employees work today and how space can be redesigned to support Emerging work patterns. 

Execution of the WPI is split into three phases. The first is pre occupancy analysis, reporting and design recommendations. Phase two is project implementation, finally followed by post-occupancy reporting and evaluation.

Gensler’s Workplace  Research was conducted amongst 309 full-time and part-time, in office workers, defined as worked who spend most of their time working at their primary, assigned location. The study was designed to include workers from specific industries including banking, finance, insurance, technology, media and marketing, consulting, consumer goods and law. Added Value, a WPP company, conducted the survey online among a randomly selected and representative sample of office workers in the UK.  



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