Procurement · 1 March 2016

Is hot-desking stopping your employees from concentrating?

employee workplace satisfaction
Almost half of UK workers are based in open-plan offices

Just 57 per cent of UK employees think their work environment helps them concentrate, according to new research by office designers Steelcase.

Britain trailed behind international competitors on a number of key measures of employee workplace satisfaction, including workers’ confidence in being able to work in teams without interruption.

The new report follows figures published by the Office for National Statistics in February 2016 which revealed that the gap between the productivity of UK workers and their G7 counterparts is at its widest level in more than two decades. British output per hour was 18 percentage points below the other members of the group in 2014.

The Steelcase study looked at 12,000 workers in 17 countries around the world and revealed that almost half of UK workers are based in open-plan offices – compared to just over one in five worldwide. They also report poor engagement and satisfaction, ranking 11 out of 17 overall.

India – with one of the lowest proportions of open-plan working spaces – topped the league for offices thought to help workers focus, with some 81 per cent of employees of the opinion that their work environment helps them concentrate better. Workers in the US also reported an above-average ability to concentrate.

British employees are also more likely to lack a fixed location for their work, with 17 per cent hot-desking or participating in nomadic working – compared to fewer than ten per cent worldwide.

“While open-plan offices and hot-desking have their benefits, there is evidence that they are contributing to lower levels of engagement and workplace satisfaction in the UK, through limiting the control employees have over their work environment,” said Bostjan Ljubic, the vice president of Steelcase UK & Ireland.

“We have consistently found that the most engaged workers are those who have more control over their work environment, including the ability to concentrate easily and work in teams without being interrupted. To cater to these needs, employers should provide a range of working environments, including private spaces, meeting rooms and informal break-out areas, to suit different styles and types of work,” he added

Bob Seddon, the chair of the workplace special interest group for the BIFM (British Institute of Facilities Management), added: “Providing workspaces for high performing organisations is more than just an exercise in reducing corporate real estate costs. The cultural, physical and technological facets of working environments all have an impact on bottom line ‘output’ performance, with the potential to improve employee productivity, wellbeing and satisfaction.”

Worldwide, French workers were the most dissatisfied with their working environment – with only half able to concentrate easily. Just over one-third feel relaxed at work, compared to 60 per cent worldwide.

For advice on how to pick a working space which is right for your team, check out this guide.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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