Guest blog by NikiFuchs, managing director, Office Space in Town
Low productivity has been ac onsistent issue for the British economy since the 2008 financial crisis.Between 2010 and 2015, UK productivity growth was 0.2 percent a year, far below its long-term average of 2.4 percent from 1970 to 2007. Recent research puts this at costing the UK economy £4bn in lost output.
Whilst many organisations have tried to address this issue, a recent survey by the universities of Cardiff,Oxford and University College London revealed that British people are working harder and faster than ever. Yet their productivity continues to stagnate.
One often overlooked catalyst of productivity is employee happiness. A recent survey by recruitment firm Robert Half suggests that a happy worker is 12 percent more productive than a miserable one. Put simply, happiness pays. It’s hardly a coincidence therefore that a study by Engaging.Works found that the UK is ranking lower than the US,Australia and many of its European peers for both workplace happiness and productivity. The message is clear – an engaged and happy workforce is vital if we are to be competitive on a global stage.
Below, Niki Fuchs, co-founder of serviced office provider Office Space in Town (OSiT), outlines how businesses can capitalise on the link between productivity and happiness, to cultivate a happy, engaged and motivated workforce.
Design for happiness
Workplace design is often overlooked when it comes to analysing the causes of low productivity. But a well-planned work space can make it easier for people to complete tasks more quickly and effectively, work together more collaboratively and creatively, and have a positive effect on their mental health, wellbeing, and engagement.Numerous studies have gone to though that the layout, design and decoration of your office has a significant impact on employee happiness and productivity. By facilitating an environment to create more successful outcomes, employees will benefit from greater productivity and so too will the business.
Aesthetics also play a part in positive or negative associations with the work space. Simply by introducing a splash of colour and some artwork, employees will feel that they are being invested in; facilitating a sense of belonging that goes a long way in terms of loyalty and staff-turnover. In fact, innovative design features have been found to drive a boost in creativity which energises productivity levels and promotes wellness among workers, At Office Space in Town, we invest heavily on the design and appearance of our offices. Our newest office, set to open in June is quite literally themed on happiness – designed to make our employees feel content and positive in their working environment.
Working environments should be responsive and adaptive to the lifestyle and working habits of their staff. Allowing employees to choose where they work from each day goes a long way in helping workers flourish. A recent study by the Engaging.Works project revealed some core fundamentals that were found to significantly affect employees’ feelings of happiness and contentment For example, while some are able to work at the traditional desk all day, others need different environments to complete different tasks owing to mental associations with different tasks.
It is no surprise therefore that a number of studies, namely one from Stanford, have found that employees who are offered greater flexibility in their working day are significantly more productive than the classic 9-5 office worker. Providing quiet, lounge-style and large breakout spaces gives workers the power to choose how they work,enabling autonomy and the positive mental associations that come with it.
Just as encouraging employees to work where and how they want is important to facilitating happiness, so is encouraging social interaction. One way of easing office communication is by creating ‘collusion points’, where workers are able to interact informally.From a simple water fountain or a communal printer to open planned kitchen and dining spaces, spontaneous chatter among employees will of course increase positive associations with the workplace and foster a happy, healthy environment.
The Human Touch
At the absolute core of creating happy, motivated employees is cultivating a community within the workspace. Research from Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, found that social connection is one of the greatest predictors of happiness and reduced stress. Creating a work environment that fosters meaningful relationships through wellness initiatives, retreats, regular social events and charity activities, encourages collaboration and communication between staff. This inturn creates positive associations with work, energises the workforce and fuel steam spirit, all of which are key to promoting job satisfaction, loyalty and of course a positive working environment.
If we’ve learnt anything in 2018, it’s that people matter. When a workforce is happy with their office environment, both physically and socially, all research points to a rise in productivity levels. Yet it would seem that organisations are yet to get fully on board.
Once a business understand this,it can unlock potential productivity from its workforce, fostering strong relationships, enhancing staff retention and improving positive outcomes, all of which will ultimately have a long-term positive impact on the business.