Article

No Laughing matter: Workplace crimes against productivity

Too hot. Too cold. Too loud. Too hard to find a meeting room. These crimes against productivity are all too common. Watch the video to find out more.

July 20, 2016

Despite the large body of evidence correlating office environments with employee effectiveness, today’s workplaces still struggle. Decades of workplace research has shown that seemingly minor office issues— from depressing lighting and stuffy air to noise and a lack of outdoor views—makes employees not just less healthy and happy, but also less productive.

Conversely, the lure of improved productivity explains why 82 percent of corporate real estate teams were launching new programs to “improve the quality of the workplace,” in JLL’s 2015 Global Corporate Real Estate Trends survey.

“It’s too hot” or “It’s too cold”

Anyone who has spent an entire workday shivering or sweating due to poor temperature control in an office can attest to how discomfort affects productivity.

A common problem is that, in many buildings, a single thermostat maintains air temperature across an entire floor or large workspace regardless of the weather outside, the work habits of a certain part of the building, or the occupants inside. Yet, simply changing how air circulates and how temperature is managed can make a dramatic difference.

Smart building technologies can help as well, at a surprisingly reasonable cost. For example, modern ventilation systems can include vents and controls at each workspace, enabling employees to manage their environment themselves. Or, an intelligent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system controlled by a central management system can maintain comfortable temperature levels in response to real-time conditions, such as outdoor weather, humidity and occupancy.

“I can’t find a meeting room”

Another top crime against productivity is a lack of meeting space—or rather, a lack of meeting space that is the right size, with the right collaboration tools, for work to be accomplished.

“Companies often assume that a ‘meeting’ means a sizable group, so they may have a few large conference rooms,” says Bernice Boucher, Managing Director – Workplace Strategy, at JLL. “The reality is that 80 percent of meetings have only two to four participants.”

But how do you know what kind of meeting rooms you really need? One way to find out is to measure the actual utilization of meeting rooms to monitor how and when your current meeting rooms are occupied.

“Typically, an organization finds that offering a variety of smaller rooms is better than having a few large rooms,” says Boucher. “And, a meeting space can be as simple as a booth in the office café, or a nook in a hallway. Providing a range of collaboration and meeting spaces can reduce employee annoyance, while supporting strategic objectives like driving innovation.”

“I don’t have the quiet or privacy to do my job”

People who work in open areas frequently complain that there’s too much noise and distraction to do their jobs or to have important conversations. For employees who need to protect confidentiality comes an added layer of concern.

Surprisingly, too little noise can also undermine productivity by creating a feeling of isolation. The solution? Provide workspace options for different kinds of work and different kinds of workers—those who love the hubbub and those who need to get away.

“Providing spaces for people to retreat to for focused, quiet or confidential work is a good solution to the noise and distraction issues of the open plan,” explains Boucher. “Great workplaces are all about providing employee choice and the right spaces for different kinds of working.”

“Wellness or wellbeing?”

Even with the best of intentions, workplace initiatives can go awry. Often, a company focuses on a particular aspect of workplace improvement or latches onto a particular trend, such as wellness programs, without considering the larger impact that could be gained with a more holistic approach.

“Employee wellness programs are great for boosting the office energy level,” observes Boucher. “However, smart companies are moving toward a concept of employee wellbeing that includes everything you need to be productive—from a choice of workspaces to a comfortable, inspiring environment. And, you can take wellbeing a step further with more strategic initiatives that give employees a sense of purpose while connecting them to their work and the organization’s strategy.”

Don’t become a repeat offender

Increasingly, companies are realizing that poor workplace design not only undermines productivity, but also can thwart corporate goals. The reality is that the physical environment can play a fundamental role in business strategy, inspiring employees to work harder, smarter and more creatively.

“Today’s data and analytics tools, along with room sensors and employee satisfaction surveys, can help a company pinpoint where its facilities fall short,” says Boucher. “The tools can help an organization make a business case for smart facility investments that foster wellbeing and future-proof their workplaces.“

While most workplaces do commit crimes against productivity at some point, using data to understand the true needs of employees can keep a company from becoming a repeat offender.

Want more? Talk to the team