HR & Management

Is the workplace productivity debate ensuring our nomadic aspirations come to an end?

5 min read

25 October 2016

While research has given us a mixed bag of contradictory methods to boost workplace productivity, we all share the perception that it is an uphill battle.

One of the most referenced ways of improving workplace productivity is flexible working, but the debate around the “no more office” revolution has been hit with a rather large spanner. This was highlighted by recent research from Peldon Rose, covering 600 UK staff.

Flexible working may actually be a hindrance, 66 per cent of staff said, suggesting workplace productivity magic happened more often when they were in the office. And the numbers only diminish from there: some 26 per cent work most productively at home, three per cent suggest inspiration strikes when seated in their favourite coffee shop, while 0.74 per cent deem the train to be their natural working habitat.

This is despite Brits having the right equipment to enable them to work anywhere.

Crucially, 50 per cent of workers felt more stressed at home, with the same number citing isolation as a reason they would return to the office. Some 53 per cent also maintained workplace productivity wasn’t the only thing missing from their working lives – they felt disconnected from colleagues.

The survey, Peldon Rose suggested, underlined how vital close working relationships with colleagues are to employees’ happiness, wellbeing and productivity. After all, 91 per cent not only said they valued their friendships within the workplace, they also credited their friendships with colleagues as one of the reasons workplace productivity increased.

As such, instead of flexible working, many suggested making the office more collaborative by, for example, having an open plan office. Some 50 per cent sang praises to break-out areas and 49 per cent urged bosses to consider having communal social spaces.

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Here are some recommendations from Peldon Rose for bosses looking to tempt workers back to the office:

Workplace design should be based on employee needs

The workplace of the future, Peldon Rose claimed, should have collaborative working zones, quiet spaces and personalised areas galore – 55 per cent of staff wish they were trusted to manage how and when they work. “This flexibility should be a critical concern for businesses,” the company said. “The future office will see more ‘hybrid workspaces’, with moveable furniture, couches and private booths to add variety and individuality to previously featureless open-plan offices.”

The comfort of home in the office

“Providing home comforts at work is vital to boosting productivity and the ideal for the future is that workers will hardly be able to distinguish their office from their home,” Peldon Rose claimed. “Fully-fitted kitchens, coffee and juice bars will increasingly be the norm, as will shower rooms, while taking a ‘power nap’ in a sleeping pod or nap room will be part of the new office culture. And if workers still need to relax then rooms decked out like a garden to boost oxygen levels and improve mood will be on hand.”

Technology will dominate our lives and further alter workplace productivity

Ensuring the future office is connected and wired for all devices, heat and light will be what Peldon Rose deemed “a hygiene factor”. It further stressed: “While technology will keep making us faster and more efficient, the technology of the future will increasingly be about building back communities in the workplace and breaking down the silos that it was partially responsible for building. To build and maintain a dynamic, connected workplace there will be widespread use of personal tele-/video-conferencing on lighter, smarter, faster mobile devices.”

For every job needing to be done, there has to be an element of fun

“With workplace friendships critical for office wellbeing and productivity businesses will need to provide the time and place to encourage team bonding and ensure there is fun to be had at work,” Peldon Rose said. “Some two-thirds of workers think social events help them to bond with their colleagues and facilities encouraging a bit of down time, such as slides, aquariums, table tennis, games and music rooms will increasingly be seen as the norm rather than the exception.”

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