According to JLL’s Global Corporate Real Estate Survey, more than 75% of companies have high expectations for CRE to improve productivity in the workplace. That number increases to 85% for companies with more than 50,000 employees. As the global economy becomes more competitive, building a high performance workplace is becoming a higher priority.
In an effort to meet those expectations for effective workspace, CRE organizations are moving beyond reducing space and cost, and taking on initiatives to transform the workplace experience. Fueling that shift is mounting evidence that the quality of the workplace impacts a company’s ability to produce and innovate.
The questions many are asking are, what makes a high performance workplace? And how can it better support a productive and innovative workforce?
Performance, innovation and workplace design
Workplace design firm Gensler’s 2016 Workplace Survey of over 4000 workers found that the “top innovators” (as measured by their Innovation Index) have two things in common:
- They provide well-designed workplaces with diverse spaces for collaboration and for individual focus. They also had access to amenities such as cafeterias, outdoor spaces, gyms and child care facilities.
- Their workplace culture empowers employees to choose where and when to work based on their needs and the work they need to accomplish.
That’s why so many companies are choosing to invest in better quality workspace design, especially activity-based work environments (ABW). This type of high performance workplace design gives employees a major advantage: more choices about where and how they accomplish their work.
That choice drives not only better individual productivity, but also increases in collaboration and creative thinking that lead to innovation.
However, it’s important to realize that building the right environment is only half the job. Transforming a space to a high performance workplace means developing a company culture that truly embraces flexibility.
Recent global research by Vodafone found that 75% of companies worldwide have adopted flexible working policies, with extremely positive results:
- 61% reported increased profits
- 83% reported productivity improvements
- 58% believed the organization’s reputation improved
3 components of the high performance workplace
Leesman is a global independent research firm that helps organizations understand how their employees work and how well their spaces support productivity. Their extensive research has identified 3 key components of the high performance workplace. Understanding these factors can help organizations to develop activity-based workplaces that work better for employees and produce better results for the company.
1. Activity complexity
When designing any workplace, it’s essential to understand the tasks or activities that employees will need to perform there. This is even more critical for activity-based workspaces. The dollars invested in the new fit out will pay off with a high performance workplace only if the mix of spaces meets the needs of workers.
The more variation in the types of activities performed in a workspace, the more benefit workers will get from having spaces specifically designed for the work they need to do. Understanding this can help CRE organizations prioritize areas for moving to activity-based working.
Here’s an example. An accounting department might have little variation in the work they do each day; most of it is individual focused work at a computer. This group may not gain as much from moving to an activity-based workplace. However, a marketing team with more varied daily activities, like team brainstorming sessions, remote conference calls, and individual focused work, will benefit much more.
Before designing a space for ABW, make sure you understand the level of activity complexity within the groups that will be using each neighborhood. What’s the easiest way to accomplish that? Ask them! Develop relationships with your business units that build their trust in you, and provide tools that make it easy for them to provide the data you need to develop a high performance workplace.
2. Variety of settings for work
Once you understand the level of activity complexity for a team, you’re in the best position to support that complexity by providing the right variety of settings for work.
Depending on the needs of the team in each neighborhood, your high performance workplace might need to provide open plan seating for team work, comfortable lounges for brainstorming, a café for encouraging impromptu collaboration, as well as more private and quiet areas for focus work. But getting the balance right is important, especially when the ABW area is also agile, where there is no longer a seat assigned to each person.
How do you get the ratios correct for each neighborhood? By implementing utilization tracking technology along with modern workplace management software that allows you to see who is using each type of space and when. Armed with a precise understanding of how each team uses space, and tools like heatmaps that let you visualize that data, you can create a high performance workplace that enables each team to perform their best work.
Find out more about utilization tracking technology with this guide to: Managing Workplace Utilization.
3. Change management through culture
Simply building a new high performance workplace environment is not enough to get people to collaborate more, or change their work habits enough to impact performance. You can’t rely on any workspace design alone to do the job of changing an organization’s culture.
Your company’s policies must fully support flexibility, not as a privilege, but as an expected way of working. Then you must deliver change management before, during and after implementation of the new work environment to shift people’s mindsets and habits.
For example, managers must learn to measure performance by output rather than by hours sitting at a desk. And workers may need to be given clear “permission” to move around during the day and take advantage of spaces designed for their tasks. Only then will the new environment be used as designed, and become the high performance workplace you intended.
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