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Workplace Design Has Dramatic Effect on Workforce

Workplace Design Has Dramatic Effect on Kiwi’s Job Satisfaction And Productivity

A nationwide survey of office workers conducted by Spaceworks Design Group has uncovered that a staggering 81% of New Zealand office workers believe the physical environment at their workplace has an impact on their happiness and job satisfaction and 9 out of 10 workers agree that if they are happy at work, they are more productive.

“This result demonstrates that employees see a direct connection between their work environment and personal productivity and job satisfaction. Employee productivity has a direct link to the bottom line and by not having an inspiring office, is a lost opportunity in achieving the best from our workers,” says Lizzi Hines Managing Director of Spaceworks.

The Spaceworks New Zealand workplace survey was conducted to ascertain whether office design can amplify a more efficient and valuable workplace and if clever design can support and inspire worker collaboration, innovation, creativity and productivity.

“As the New Zealand economy continues to gain momentum and the nonstop advances in technology, a new generation of workers are leading the charge on how workplace design should better support them. It is our job as designers to stay abreast of what’s important to Kiwi office workers so our designs are future-proofed and reflect the new way of working,” Hines continues.

Interestingly, over three quarters of respondents are more likely to stay at their current company if they had an inspiring office to work in and almost 6 in 10 respondents stated that the office interior layout has a substantial impact on their decision to work for a company. However, only four in ten believe that their office is adopting new trends in the workplace design space, demonstrating a disparity between what Kiwi workers have and what they’d like.

According to Kiwi workers, the most important drivers of improving job satisfaction are having their own personal desk or space (91%), having good, even air temperature (90%) and having natural daylight utilised for staff members (85%). A dedicated in-house area to eat lunch also scored highly (73%).

New Zealanders believe the most important aspects in improving respondents productivity and ability to do their job are having a good company culture (94%), having their own personal desk or space (89%) and having good, even air temperature (90%).

Other important factors contributing to improving employee output was having an environment that encourages collaboration (86%), ergonomic furniture (82%) and quiet areas to break away from open plan (79%) and bookable meeting rooms (76%).

The above scored far higher than other factors such as having a good quality coffee machine (49%), having height adjustable desks (59%) and 8 in 10 workers believing that hot desks would not be important to their productivity and ability to do their job.

“The results above would suggest the hot desk trend might not be suitable for some of our New Zealand employees and their productivity. The important thing to note is when re-designing an office don’t jump into the latest fads - it is crucial to have a designer conduct a workplace strategy to uncover the reality of how your own employees like to do their job,” says Hines.

Of those surveyed, 60% of the respondents work in an open plan office, with 31% working in a combination (open plan and cellular) and only 9% work in a cellular (only) office.

Kiwi workers believe the main advantages of an open plan office space is having easier collaboration with colleagues (72%) and sharing of information (62%). Interestingly having ‘no hierarchies’ is not seen as an advantage to having open plan office (20%).

The disadvantages of an open plan office space is the noise levels (77%), interruptions and distractions (73%) and the lack of privacy (63%) and the inability to have private conversations (57%).

“As designers it is our challenge to ensure an open plan office doesn’t result in lost productivity. The research clearly shows that employees believe collaboration has a direct link to productivity and therein lies our conundrum. How does the design of an office promote teamwork and at the same time offer privacy?”

“Workplaces which are designed to encourage collaboration without sacrificing focus, will always be more successful. The new age open plan which factors in informal meeting/breakout spaces and areas away from the working zones where employees can focus and make phone calls is the solution,” says Hines.

This is supported by the fact that one in seven employees think an office where the majority of the space is open plan and there are supporting spaces (such as breakout/quiet focus rooms/phone booths) would make them happier and more productive. 66% of respondents would also be happy to work in open plan if there was an alternative space to work from with a laptop (quiet pod or sofas).

It was also discovered that only 5 in 10 New Zealand office workers think their work space stimulates innovation and creativity.

“We are a nation of innovative workers and entrepreneurs and there is so much untapped potential in many of our employees. By designing more offices which unleash greatness in all of us, we’d be producing far better work.”

Lizzi recommends innovation and creativity can be invigorated via a myriad of ways. Visually stimulating interiors with graphics, colours, textures and writable surfaces can amplify creativity as well as a variety of work settings, low seating, standing desks and brainstorming and collaborative zones, all create interest which in turn promote innovation.

“The companies that encourage employees’ creativity and innovation by having an inspiring workspace will be ahead of the game both nationally and internationally,” Hines concluded.


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