How a new approach to office space could add £70bn to economy

A report by the Stoddart Review claims that companies could boost their productivity by between one and 3.5% and add £70bn to the UK economy if they stop looking at office spaces as a cost to be managed, and start looking at them as a way to generate revenue.

Plantronics boardroom

The review, a collaboration between workplace experts and business leaders, advises businesses to look at how office spaces can be reworked to boost employee productivity - instead of simply filling spaces with people.

They found that 47% of UK office workers don't think the space they work in enables them to be productive. They also say this prevents them from feeling any pride in the image and culture of the companies they work for.

"Raising productivity levels is essential to deliver stronger economic growth," said James Sutton, Executive Director of the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).

"Those leading the review were reminded time and again that the purpose of the workplace is to make employees as effective as they can be. But the review also saw that when a workplace is hardwired into an organisation’s purpose, values and brand, it drives pride and engagement and unlocks discretionary effort."

Put simply: office workers work harder if they're happy with their surroundings.

The review drew up a list of factors that can help unlock the productivity boost based on the tendencies of successful businesses:

1. Space = value, not cost

Don't think about each square metre as another cost. Think of it as a space you can utilise to boost the productivity of employees and thus generate revenue.

2. Measure the value of office space

Find out how the environment impacts people. What do employees think of the space you've provided? How does it affect their productivity? How could it be improved?

3. Make space the agenda

Space is a matter of importance. Make that clear by having it regularly on the board agenda to direct responsibilities towards the CEO and HR director - rather than the finance department.

4. Create flexible office space

Designate and design space for people to meet informally, relax and change up their working environment. Not everyone works productively stuck at a desk.

5. Fluid and change

Continually monitor the success of your work spaces. Don't just overhaul and leave people to their own devices until the next scheduled renewal. People change, behaviours change and spaces should change to reflect that.

6. Brand it up

Be creative and brand-conscious in your redesign. Consider how you can work your company's colour schemes, mission statement and core values into the space to build a tighter community and brand affinity.

Commenting on the review, Programme Director Polly Plunket-Checkmian said:

"We need British businesses to take note. It is staggering that only half of employees can say their place of work enables them to be productive. The office is still incredibly relevant to us all, not least because nine out of 10 people in the corporate environment still work in an office or predominantly in one place. And given the importance of knowledge workers to our economy, attracting them, retaining them and helping them to be productive is critical to UK PLC."

To talk to a Posturite expert about creating fluid, productive workspaces, take a look at our Projects section and get in touch.