New report aims to increase profits by revolutionising the workplace

The report, co-authored by management consultancy specialist Steve Henigan and workplace design, branding and consultancy expert Steve Wright, argues that by responding to employee needs with simple improvements to services and facilities, businesses can create a happier and more incentivised workforce. This can lead to increased retention rates and decreased lost revenue from absenteeism – overall resulting in a more productive and thus profitable organisation.

For example, it is estimated that up to 1.4 per cent of absenteeism is a result of poor office furniture causing back pain, which equates to a loss of income of £266 per employee, per annum. Therefore, by providing staff with a desk and chair that reduces back pain by 50 per cent can cut absenteeism by a similar level, saving £133 per employee. Whilst this office furniture may require more upfront cost this is reduced when spread over the lifetime of the chair, generally seven years.

Counter to the existing top-down workplace paradigm, the paper argues for a holistic model that includes input from across the company. The paper argues that by taking account of the business plan and objectives as well as input from services and facilities departments, external service partners and internal brand management, staff will be more engaged and supportive of decisions impacting on their working environment.

Steve Henigan, Partner at construction and property management consultancy RLF Optima said: “In the current economic climate, many companies are focusing on reducing upfront facilities costs rather than increasing income through improving staff productivity. However, this paper shows that employees respond positively to well-maintained premises that support their daily working patterns and in which they feel comfortable. Therefore, whilst improved facilities may require slightly higher upfront costs, they can lead to significantly increased profits, far outstripping initial expenditure.”

Steve Wright, Project Director at leading architecture and design firm TTSP added: “Labour represents up to 70 per cent of a company’s expenditure, significantly more than FM and maintenance costs, which account for only 2.5 per cent of an organisation’s total operating expenses. Cutting this expenditure therefore has limited overall effect. For example, a reduction in FM costs of 20 per cent will only generate a 3 per cent saving across the business. Companies generate their income per head and therefore, should be focusing on improving productivity of staff rather than reducing facilities costs.

“It is vital that staff needs and input from cross sector departments are interpreted with expert advice when taking out an office refurbishment or review to ensure resources are directed to the correct areas. If implemented effectively, this model can provide a comprehensive brief that will lead to a revolutionised workplace.”

The findings of the paper are drawn from the author’s expert knowledge and broad evidence from across the real estate sector, including data from the Leesman Index, a workplace satisfaction and effectiveness benchmark. This data is based on results from over 20,000 individuals from across a number of sectors in various locations. It demonstrates that employees working in higher performing offices believe their workplace enables them to work more productively. It also provides employers with an insight into which elements are most important to staff and how improving them can lift productivity.