Office Design Holds Back Productivity

A recent survey of 657 company managers show 72 percent give their office space a grade of "C" or below when asked about the impact of their workplaces on productivity.

The office space of the future will need to do a much better job of supporting teamwork, telecommuting and overall productivity according to a study by Cincinnati-based Hixon, a workplace design corporation.

The survey of 657 Fortune 1000 and dot-com managers show 72 percent give their office space a grade of "C" or below when asked about the impact of their workplaces on productivity and achieving their business objectives.

Findings show the vast majority of managers believe their offices tend to inhibit rather than promote teamwork and flexibility.

Managers are so "facility frustrated" that 61 percent of those surveyed said they would sacrifice nearly one-half their bonuses to improve the workplace.

"These findings paint a picture of a business environment where the traditional office is losing touch with the needs of the people who work there," said Stephen Schlegel, Hixon vice president. "When managers say they would trade part of their personal compensation for a more effective work environment, companies would do well to take a second look at how their facilities are supporting the work process."

Targeting senior staff from a broad range of business functions, the survey indicates that the current state of facilities is a hindrance and that there are significant opportunities to enhance employee productivity, retention, recruitment, satisfaction and the effectiveness of teams.

Among the top findings of the survey:

  • Telecommuting and the mobile workforce are expected to triple over the next five years with up to 50 percent of the workforce telecommuting and the average worker spending only 36 percent of his or her time in their workplaces.
  • Respondents believe the rise of team-based work processes in corporations is expected to grow to 44 percent over the next five years.
  • Respondents estimate commitments to workplace improvements and innovation would generate an average of 30 percent higher productivity.

The study also found individuals' need for privacy, appropriate lighting, noise control and other basic amenities.

Respondents believe that added attention to these and other features of the workplace can have a similarly positive impact on productivity.

"People want to do a good job and they have identified the facility, in many cases, as a major factor that keeps them from doing this," said Schlegel. "This data clearly indicates that the facility is a roadblock to progress."

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