By Bernice Boucher
Why do so many companies make it difficult for employees to concentrate? So many persist in committing “crimes against productivity,” with workplaces that are too hot, too cold, too loud, or too confining for anyone to focus. There’s no reason this has to be the case: tangible workplace solutions can shape an empowered, engaged workforce.
As I argue in a new paper released during this year’s CoreNet Global Summit in Los Angeles, the solution lies in how we create the employee experience. Employee wellness programs are great for boosting the office energy level, but the smart companies are moving toward a more holistic concept of employee well-being.
Productivity And Well-being—Like Peas And Carrots
Believe it or not, data confirms that investing in workplace well-being supports productivity.
A World Green Building Council (WGBC) report uncovers substantial links between employee health, well-being, and productivity. Analyzing decades of research, the WGBC report found that such factors as inflexible workspaces, poor air quality, little access to daylight and plants, and temperatures that are too hot or too cold can distract from the tasks at hand and reduce employee engagement.
In contrast, a health-enabling, meaningful, engaging work experience supports the bottom line in measurable ways. This lure of ROI has helped inspire 82 percent of corporate real estate teams to launch new programs to “improve the quality of the workplace,” according to JLL’s 2015 Global Corporate Real Estate Trends survey.
Common “Crimes Against Productivity”
If everyone can agree that productivity is a worthy goal, then how are some facilities missing the mark? Let me count the ways:
- Physical discomfort
- Uninspiring surroundings
- Inconvenient meeting space
- No escape from noise
- Siloed management approaches
Five Ways To Right Those Wrongs
- Clear the air: High levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds emitted by indoor building materials are linked to fatigue and reduced mental clarity, according to WGBC. A 2011 test found that improving ventilation improved workplace performance by 8 percent. Smart building management technology can go a long way toward clearing the air by fine-tuning air quality around the clock.
- Maximize daylighting. Natural light is known to improve mood and focus. Combining several small spaces into a larger communal area can get bigger bang for your windows’ buck. Portable screens can also maximize light while carving out more private spaces.
- Provide inspiring settings: Unlike closed walls, expansive views extend the line of sight, relieving stress and refreshing minds. Bringing communal areas to life with potted plants can also be restorative, supporting cognitive function and imagination.
- Create workplace choice: Open floorplans are stimulating, but noisy. Heads-down space is quiet, but isolating. Providing a choice of workspace—and ease of access to it—is a trademark of a great workplace.
- Collaborate with your peers in HR and IT: When the corporate real estate team partners with HR and IT, workplace strategy wins—and so do employees. As you build a more collaborative approach, today’s data and analytics platforms will enable you to combine workplace usage metrics with facilities data to see where and why specific strategies are working.
The fact is, workplace is not just where work happens, but a huge part of how work happens. Health-oriented packages are a perk, but creating a well-being experience makes a workplace fit for the future.
Bernice Boucher is the Managing Director of Workplace Solutions, JLL Americas. She currently leads the Workplace Strategy Practice in the Americas and is a senior leader in the Workplace Solutions practice globally. Her rich experience working with Fortune 100 businesses and corporate real estate groups adds an additional level of expertise to JLL’s practice. Bernice has more than 17 years of experience in workplace strategy and change management.
Question of the Week: How do you support productivity in your facilities? What crimes against productivity have you faced, and how did you right these wrongs? Please share your answers in the Comment section below.