Cold, eerie and depressing workplaces hampering productivity for UK workforce
Survey of over 1,000 UK workers reveals opportunity to boost productivity through better workplace environments catering to ‘larks’ and ‘night owls’
Over half (53%) of UK indoor workers say they are most productive first thing in the morning but are frustrated by cold, eerie and depressing workplaces, according to a survey of 1,104 people.
The research, from property services business Extentia Group, reveals UK employers could be losing out on employee productivity due to poor workplace environments, that don’t cater for ‘larks’ and ‘night owls’ - those who are most productive first thing in the morning and into the evening, respectively.
The research found that a quarter of larks (24%) don’t go to work early despite this being their most productive time. And of the 76% of larks that do arrive early, more than half (59%) are frustrated by an inhospitable working environment. Common complaints include workplaces being cold (17%), depressing (12%) and eerie (10%) and finding it hard to concentrate due to a lack of quiet spaces to avoid disruption as co-workers arrive (20%).
Although only 12% of respondents claimed to be night owls and said they felt more productive in the late afternoon, 45% of all respondents said they worked after hours, meaning people are working past when they’re most productive. Those working in the evening had similar gripes to those who come in early, with 12% claiming their workspace was uninviting after hours, which made them feel like they shouldn’t be there.
More than half (59%) of the 1,104 people surveyed said they regularly worked outside of their normal working hours.
Of these, a third (36%) said they did this to have more quiet time, 29% said they felt more mentally active, and 18% said they have their best ideas outside of traditional working hours. Avoiding rush hour traffic was another motivation for 27% of people, while 22% said it was to work around other life commitments such as the school run.
Extentia Group, which delivers services across the complete lifecycle of the built environment, says its research has confirmed simple but effective things employers could to do to boost staff productivity outside of the traditional 9 to 5.
These include using more natural light – cited by 23% of respondents – making sure amenities and refreshments are available (20%) and using plants and more homely design features to make spaces less gloomy (19%).
Tony Lenehan, chief executive at Extentia Group, said: “Our study has shown that the UK is a nation of larks who feel more productive and alert and have their best ideas first thing in the morning. Accommodating these workers through better workplace design and better furnishing could help UK employers boost productivity.
“It’s not about encouraging employees to spend more time at work, rather getting employers to understand that workplace design has a direct impact on productivity, and by adapting their environments they can ensure they’re playing to the strengths of their employees.
“Small changes such as introducing more natural light, better airflow, using colour and providing different types of spaces to suit different working styles will have an impact. Furniture is also a large part of this and few businesses design workspaces with enough thought to where furniture is going to be placed to create environments for people’s daily habits. Even the basics of having facilities available earlier and later and ensuring that the temperature is comfortable both first thing in the morning and late in the evening could be quick wins.”
“Ultimately, the best route to creating space that works for people in an organisation is through consulting with them. Asking staff what would be most effective for them can inform new concepts and help you understand how people want to use the space they work in every day.”
Extentia Group is made up of 11 specialist businesses offering services across the full lifecycle of property, from design, project management and delivery, to optimisation, supplying furniture, fittings and equipment and facilities management.
The research commissioned by Extentia Group was carried out by Censuswide, which polled the working habits of 1,104 people indoor workers in April 2019.
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