The Fitwel Certification System, initially piloted in the USA by the USA’s General Services Administration (GSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just launched its healthier buildings initiative into the UK.
Joanna Frank, Executive Director of the New York-based Center for Active Design, explains:
“Fitwel provides 63 cost-effective design and operational strategies for enhancing building environments to improve occupant health and productivity.”
Scientifically based, each strategy links to one of the seven health impact categories including well-being, what reduces morbidity and absenteeism and what promotes occupant safety, helping organisations understand what benefits they can incorporate that improve their employees’ workplace experience and the workplace environment.
The certification tool contains 3,000 footnoted ‘peer-reviewed’ studies backing up what it recommends and is a considerable addition to the Time and Workspace Analysis we carry out for businesses when they are considering a relocation or the re-fit of a workspace.
Open-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.
“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.
*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.
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
In 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.
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.
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 email@example.com .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.