Introverts VS ExtrovertsOpen-plan offices provide a collaborative space to fuel productivity, develop comradery and helps promote a healthy work-life balance.

Walk into many creative agencies in London, and you’ll find a hub of creative activity, discussion. Take Google who adopts the open office policy “to spark conversation about work as well as play.”

Open-plan offices are also utilised by other industries too, but often, depending on your working style this environment can be a hotbed of distraction and make it difficult for staff to get any serious work done, especially introverted workers who require a little more peace and quiet to get complex tasks complete.

So, what’s the answer to a happy, balanced workspace environment? While we believe the collaboration in a creative, open-plan environment is beneficial, if not managed effectively to cater to all types of workers’ needs, the output of work from your staff may be affected.

Jeanette Grover the founder and Project Director at Rapport Solutions explains:

“As a company grows and can afford to invest in a quality workspace, the environment should become a tangible manifestation of the company culture. Collecting input from employees about their ideal work conditions and incorporating that feedback into the new workspace encourages collaboration, individuality and delivers a workspace designed to support changes with limited disruption. 

We encourage this employee feedback during our design and workspace service. This was successfuly employeed during our Rosebery Housing and Shepherds Bush Housing projects.”

*You can read an exclusive interview with David Blackburn, Director of Business Support, and how working with Rapport was the key to the success of the Shepherds Bush project supporting internal communication between staff, management and the delivery team here.  

 

As a business, if you would like to make the most of your workspace and open-plan policy, consider the following insights for a productive and happy workplace.

 

1. Offer ‘quiet space’ to help individual productivity 

Even in organisations that encourage and thrive on creative collaboration, employees still have specific tasks and goals that require focus. A poorly designed open floor plan can make these tasks challenging. The solution? Include spaces for quiet, private or small group work in your office design. This offers the best of both worlds. An open-plan office without compromising on individual productivity. Solutions such as soundproofing booths and can easily modify the interior to cater to these needs.


2. White noise and sound masking

WorkersIn environments with white noise or sound masking, employees report improvements of up to 38% for the performance of simple tasks and 27% for complex tasks. The office layout, including flooring materials, walls, ceilings and behavioural protocols can also make a difference.

In a recent study of 2,800 knowledge workers – commissioned by Sodexo and in partnership with Quora Consulting – 67% admitted they left their last role because the workplace was not optimised for them.

Of those, 69% said their workplace design directly impacted on their effectiveness – citing office noise, bad lighting and access to quiet space all as crucial factors.

More than half (51%) also claimed that cutting unnecessary noise was the most important way to improve effectiveness. A third (35%) said access to quiet space is key to increasing productivity.

3. Encourage remote working initiatives

Open-plan offices work well when offered alongside hot desking and remote working policies. Offering employees, the opportunity to work on occasional projects that need time and focus from home or a client’s office can give many a break from the commute and some well needed down time to tackle tasks that need focus without colleague distraction.Although the right policies and practise may need to be implemented, the remote working policy can bolster individual productivity, strengthen the employee sense of

Although the right policies and practise may need to be implemented, the remote working policy can bolster individual productivity, strengthen the employee sense of privacy and increase staff loyalty.

Striking a balance is key!

Effective, and balanced workspace design is key to your business needs, bottom line and employees. If you’re at the early stages of a relocation or re-design – Rapport’ are on hand to advise your organisation on best practises and solutions to cater to all your employee and business needs.

Join us on one of our free workspace design workshops

We work closely with our clients and their staff at the early stages of a workspace design project to understand the culture and the needs of different departments to find a happy medium within the design.

We work with HR teams closely to carry out workshops that involve key managers and staff in the initial design process.

Open to HR and facilities teams who are in the early stages of a workspace design or relocation project, our free workspace design workshops help advice you and your organisation on best practices. Providing a considered questionnaire to staff to understand what keeps them motivated; what distracts them about their current working space and tailored to your wants and needs’ our individual sessions help your organisation make the most of our independent and impartial industry knowledge and expertise with our designers, project managers and contractors.

For more details and to contact us about availability, call on 01252 712590 or email info@rapport-solutions.org .

 

To keep our clients informed, we continuously develop and follow new research in workplace design.

Our design and workspace analysis with clients and employees at the earliest stages of a relocation or refurbishment project identifies behavioural science, environmental development, change management, and technological advancements. These all have an impact on workspace design.

We find out which of these factors will have the most influence in 2017.

 

1. Commercial property rents

Although demand for office space was still high in the usually quiet first quarter of 2016, London businesses are increasingly being driven out of the city, due to high London rents.

With article 50 being triggered at the end of March this year, will there be uncertainty across the country? It’s anyone’s guess how those events may unfold and what impact that will have on the market economy. Downsizing or thinking more strategically about office space, location and your businesses culture over the coming years will be paramount. Smart companies will be thinking about how they can make the best use of their physical office space. Trends such as flexible working – could mean head offices may not need to be as large or centrally based.

2. Flexible working

With a transport system that can trigger anger in the sanest person commuting to and from London, those looking for a better work/life balance look to be more flexible than ever before. Mobility is crucial to today’s workforce and can help retain employees and attract new talent. Employees could be working from home, from client sites, or within co-working spaces. Hot desking areas will need to be better equipped and well thought through to provide workers’ a safe and supportive environment when they work on site.

3. Technology advancement help us communicate more effectively!

Innovation in technology will continue to transform our workspace, hours, and working practices.  With advancements such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and Slack there is no longer a need for multiple face-to-face meetings with colleagues and clients.

The need for high-quality spaces for face-to-face interaction when workers do come together will be a crucial factor to consider.

4. Workspace will need to increase productivity

Not only do businesses have a duty to use more sustainable practises throughout the workspace, A well-designed building can improve overall productivity and performance significantly.

The Sound of Productivity, a report by Dr Anneli Haake showed that 79% of people could benefit from listening to music at work. The study showed the link between music and productivity changed for different workspaces.

Yet, noise and music can be distracting when employees need focus on research, writing tasks or a creative strategy. Breakout spaces within the workplace filled with pods and furniture where one-to-one meetings can take place, or where quiet time can be taken to concentrate can be enormously effective.

5. Millennials and Generation Z VS. and ageing workforce

Millennials have become synonymous for being more risk adverse, opting to move away from the traditional ‘9-5’ and ‘job for life’ mentality for more flexibility. The up and coming Generation Z will be tech savvy, yet more serious and cautious after growing up during a time of recession and instability. Most will want to carve out a more serious and stable career.

We live longer we work longer – many of us will continue to work well beyond our official retirement age to earn money and keep our minds active and engaged. Combine an older generation of workers with millennials and generation z, and you’re looking at a very mixed group of employees. With this generational shift employers’ will need to consider engaging employees with workplaces that support different needs and wants.  Creating vibrant offices is one tactic. Providing flexibility and choices for where, when and how work happens is also critical for attracting and retaining the best and brightest people across a wide range of ages.

 

Call us to find out how our team at Rapport can facilitate design workshops that engage your employees across the business.

Contact Jeanette Grover on 01252 712590 or email us at info@rapport-solutions.org.uk for further information. 

According to the 2016 National Office Market Report by property consultancy, Lambert Smith Hampton, the significant and growing difference in premises, staff and housing costs between Central London and the UK’s other key cities is huge.

It’s a worrying reality for many businesses who rely on being near London-based clients and employing and maintaining the right talent. It’s becoming a recognised fact, that many small firms and employees are being increasingly priced out of the capital due to the rise in London rents.

 

London Vs Regional Offices

OfficesThe difference in overhead costs in London to other cities, such as Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham is now staggering. Typically, costs outside of London for staff and premises (including rent, business rates, day-to-day running costs) on a new-build office amounts to just over £50,000 per workstation.

A workstation in London’s Midtown area carries an annual cost of well over £80,000.

Tony Fisher, national head of office agency at Lambert Smith Hampton, said: “The significant cost advantages offered by the UK’s core regional cities are such that we are starting to see a rebalancing of business activity away from London over the coming decade. As the differential in occupational, staff and housing costs continue to widen, both bosses and staff are beginning to recognise that there is life outside of the M25.

Alongside publicly funded infrastructure investment, investors and developers will play an important role in turning the opportunity into a reality. New schemes in the core regional cities should be considered to suit the needs of both existing businesses as well as be targeted at progressive occupiers in the capital who may benefit from relocation.”

The National Office Market report also finds that 2015 was an outstanding year for the UK office sector with most markets seeing above trend rates of activity and rental growth.

With one-quarter of 2016 statistics now in, the picture is a little more mixed. Central London seems to have moved into a more downbeat pattern, with take-up significantly down, both year-on-year and against the trend. But this stands in stark contrast to the UK’s other key markets, with impressive levels of activity seen in the Big six markets and the Thames Valley region.

The high cost of London, advises Fisher is: “A challenge not only for occupiers but increasingly their staff as well. With the case for relocation looking increasingly compelling, could the UK’s main regional centres be on the cusp of a wave of inward investment?”

So, what’s the answer for businesses being priced out of London?

Downsizing your office space within the capital

If your core client base is central London or your business is reliant on being centrally based, then downsizing office space and offering your staff the opportunity to work more flexibly could be the answer.

Do all your staff need to be in every day all at the same time? While communication is crucial Office meetingin most industries, business has been gifted the opportunity to communicate sufficiently through modern forms of technology.

Google Hangouts, Skype, slack and other in-house tools can connect people for meetings internally and with external clients.

Offering staff remote working opportunities (if applicable to the industry) could mean that the need for large office space is largely reduced. You may want to consider a hot desking set up when staff are in the building and additional breakout areas instead of building extra meeting rooms.

The opportunity to work more flexibly also offers staff an incentive to stay on with the organisation by offering a better work/life balance.

Alternatively, downsizing to a serviced offices with other occupiers could be of interest.

* If your commercial lease is due to expire in the next 12 months and you would like further advice on how you can reduce overheads and future proof your workspace environment, then do get in touch with us on 01252 712590 or info@rapport-solutions.org.uk.

Relocating to regional offices in London outside of the city

There are many up and coming areas of London that your business could consider relocating to in the future.

South West London is becoming very popular and is well serviced by tubes and overground rail services. East Croydon, for example, has just launched Box Park. The first Box Park, a hub of eateries and fashion pop-ups launched in Shoreditch in East London in 2011 and the surrounding area has seen an influx of creative agencies and start-ups over the years.

With many of these companies now being priced out of East London and the gentrification of areas like Croydon, businesses can now relocate at much lower rates.

Crossrail 1 and 2 will also have an impact on how we travel in the future and where businesses choose to base themselves.

Our top tip? Keep a look out for more obscure areas of London being developed and invested in.

Relocating to regional offices across the UK

MeetingAlthough the annual salary in London is 33% higher than in other regions, the cost of living outside the capital is a lot cheaper. It is estimated that in areas outside of London the price of living costs 40-60% less. Rent in London is one of the highest in the world, never mind just the UK. A one bedroom flat in London can cost the same in rent as a three-bedroom house in the north of England. The commute into and out of London can also be very costly and stressful.

Relocating to a regional office will reduce overheads, and although some staff may be lost in the decision to move, you’ll attract local talent who will be able to offer valuable expertise.

Again, technology can aid communication with clients’, and you may want to reconsider the number of meetings held in central London through these forms of communication to reduce overheads.

Many large finance companies such as PwC and HSBC have offices across the UK in other cities like Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester.  Working in a regional office can also help support regional towns by improving the surrounding economy.

How can Rapport help?

Rapport’ work alongside commercial office agents in the market, and are on hand to offer impartial and independent advice if your business is looking to relocate.  Making an assessment of your current workspace, we can identify opportunities to reduce overall space requirements and improve communications and interaction across the business.

We have significant experience in the commercial industry and are happy to provide support via an informal discussion. If you would like additional advice on anything featured in the above article do get in touch.

Phone: 01252 712590 

Email: info@rapport-solutions.org.uk