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Why the right office space is the forgotten facilitator of productivity

Traditionally, when we discuss productivity, we are referring to how well a business turns input (such as labour, materials and capital) into goods and services – or output.
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However, today, increasing productivity means working smarter, like getting the most out of your assets. It is the job of the management team to ensure that there is no productivity drag that better work practices could prevent.

One often underestimated productivity factor is the physical office itself.  As one of the biggest fixed costs for SMEs after wages, office rental should be viewed as a fundamental financial consideration for most businesses.

However, rather than viewing it simply as a dead cost, our clients often report to me that occupying the right office space not only reduces expenditure but can actually boost productivity. Below, I outline why occupying the right office space can be an unexpected facilitator of productivity.

Office based working is more productive 

Despite recent trends towards remote/ home working, a study by leading communications services provider Mantel revealed that young workers in particular are most productive in the office. While it is generally agreed that the ability to focus without interruption is critical to productivity, this arguably more achievable in a dedicated workspace, rather than a café or home environment.

Creativity is also a critical factor in enhancing productivity. Not only does it foster innovation, it can also help to problem solve and even engender an emotional investment and sense of empowerment in employees.

In a work environment, creativity is rarely a solitary pursuit.  The ability to idea share and problem solve with colleagues is vital to a company’s development, innovation and therefore productivity. This can be more easily achieved in an office environment, albeit in breakout or communal spaces.

Workplace wellbeing

Employee well-being is strongly correlated to employee productivity and performance. Even a small shift in well-being can have a dramatic impact on an organisation’s productivity levels. Perhaps one of the largest factors of well-being is the physical workspace.

There are numerous reports, indices, and studies such as Gensler’s Workplace IndexThe Leesman Index and Steelcase that explore the relationship between the physical space and business performance metrics, productivity, and what employees value. These all tend arrive at the same conclusion, that employees who enjoy and like the environments they are a part of will be more engaged, productive, happy, and healthy.

The physical wellness of employees is clearly linked to productivity. The incorporation of breakout spaces, communal areas and even gyms encourage movement and therefore wellness.  Sedentary behaviour can have a detrimental effect on performance and productivity.

While it is each employee’s responsibility to look after their health, all employers have a vested interest in promoting a healthy work force, reducing both absenteeism and presenteeism.

Fit for purpose

One size does not fit all. Different people work in different ways, and modern offices environment should reflect that. Equally, different tasks call for different work environments – some requiring independent focused working, others collaboration and human connection.

According to a recent survey by Dale Office Interiors, almost 50 per cent of respondents report that having a variety of space to both work and relax would be the best way to boost employee productivity.

Critical to productivity is a variety of work spaces within the office, including desk space, high quality meeting room space and breakout or social areas.  When every square foot of floor space adds cost to the bottom line, serviced offices, which provide shared access to communal space and pay per use facilities, can provide businesses with access to the range of spaces they need for a productive workforce, in a highly professional setting without paying for superfluous square footage.

Offices providing the right tools will improve productivity

Technology is clearly a facilitator for productivity. According to a Pew Networked Workers survey, 69 per cent of employees surveyed reported that technology helps improve productivity. Additionally, tech news portal, Tech Dissected, reported that the use of technology, specifically mobile phones and email, has led to an overall increase of 84 per cent in productivity per hour for office workers since the 1970s.

A trend that is expected to continue, with a further growth of 22 per cent predicted by 2020.  Providing employees with the right tools and equipment is critical so they can execute their duties efficiently and on time. Modern offices should be fully future proofed with high bandwidth capability to anticipate technological developments and therefore the needs of businesses and their employees.

Flexibility fosters productivity

The ability to scale your office space up or down quickly and easily according to your business needs, without incurring moving costs, can ensure that productivity and profitability are maintained, even in an unpredictable economic climate.

Demand for flexible office space in recent years is testament to the positive impact it can have on a company’s profitability and productivity by facilitating growth, enhancing employee experience, reviving corporate culture and reducing expenditure on unnecessary space.

While businesses change strategy or trim workforces to boost productivity and improve profitability, perhaps the simplest solution is to reconsider the physical environment in which your company operates.

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About Author

Giles Fuchs

Giles Fuchs established Office Space in Town with his sister Niki in 2009, and today is the CEO of one of the most successful property companies in the UK, with boutique serviced offices across the Capital, Northampton, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

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