Trillion dollar productivity gains could be the biggest workplace win of all

Research on the impact of workplace strategies suggests that while optimisation could save European business a staggering $243 billion in rent alone, this pales into insignificance compared to the potential value of improved workplace productivity.

Workspace optimisation is being increasingly identified as a significant solution for three of today’s most pressing business issues: employee well-being; talent attraction & retention; and workplace productivity. While each of these has grown into a key C-Level concern for many (if not most) organisations over recent years, the link between them has not always been understood as well as it might have been. Perhaps inevitably, the focus has tended to fall on improving productivity at the expense of the other, ‘softer’ metrics.

But organisations are now starting to see a much stronger link between all three issues than had previously been understood, with evidence showing that the right workspaces not only improve employee well-being and support long-term talent strategies, but can also make a remarkable contribution to workspace productivity.

The value of workplace productivity

The size of the prize – the savings and gains from getting this right – could be staggering.

“Our research looks at the potential savings in rent by optimising space, but this is just scratching the surface of the financial gains that can be simultaneously made…One recent report by Philips on the impact of workplace strategies demonstrated the potential gains with reference to the JLL 3-30-300 rule of real estate, which suggests that a company’s typical costs per square foot per year are $3 for utilities, $30 for rent and $300 for payroll.

This indicates that percentage gains in employee productivity will always be worth far more to a company than rent reductions or increases in energy efficiency.

For this reason, the report’s authors argue that workplace productivity – rather than simple rent, utility or other cost reductions – should be seen as the primary motivation for the next generation of workplace optimisation strategies.

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting said: “Our research looks at the potential savings in rent by optimising space, but this is just scratching the surface of the financial gains that can be simultaneously made by using smart technology.

“This technology can significantly reduce bills for energy, water and air conditioning, and generate even greater financial benefits by improving the productivity of employees through enabling them to do things like find a meeting room faster or adapt the light and temperature conditions at their workstation.”

The human factor

This could represent a significant shift in business thinking, given that workplace design and well-being matters are still all-too-often dismissed as ‘soft’ metrics and paid little more than lip service. In fact, in this context it is interesting to note another recent report which highlighted that what employees are usually calling for is effective, efficient and comfortable workspace with reliable modern technology, rather than wacky design or a pinball table in reception.

Of course there is no doubt that there are very human factors at play here alongside the hard business metrics. People do want to feel comfortable in their workplace, and indeed proud of it. Where this is achieved it inevitably creates happier, more positive environments, greater employee productivity and – as surely as night follows day – a significant contribution to both talent acquisition and retention.

For all these reasons it seems that workspace optimisation solutions will increasingly be found at the top of the C-Level agenda, as organisations strive to unlock the astonishing productivity, talent and well-being gains which the research suggests can be achieved.

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