25 Sept 2017

What Workers Want



Without income property has little value. It is surprising, therefore, that the industry spends an awful lot of time looking at design, construction and investment, but relatively little on occupation.


What Workers Want has been published by the BCO and Savills twice, in 2013 and 2016. The latest research draws on a survey of more than 1,100 office workers conducted by YouGov. We have found it gives insights you wouldn’t normally get from asking the workers’ representatives at C-suite level. Who’d have thought that smell was so important?

The factors deemed by over 70% to be highly important were: the length of commute; cleanliness; toilet provision; wifi; private space for focussed work and public transport.  Meanwhile, factors affecting wellbeing specifically were comfort; temperature; light; noise; smell and security.

The study also measured the gap between importance and satisfaction. Areas for improvement included the provision of quiet space; wifi; cleanliness and internal design. Perceived productivity in open plan versus private office was also tested, with the (expected?) view that open plan decreases productivity.

We can draw the following inferences:
  • There is some disconnect between what workers actually want and what their employers say they want (or maybe just what the office supply industry thinks they want).
  • The simple things are important and can be provided easily by facilities management (cleanliness) and specification (toilet provision).
  • An engaging fa├žade is nice to have, but makes little difference to occupant satisfaction and, therefore, recruitment and retention. Attention is better spent on:
  • Enabling productivity. This is a subject of a whole new workstream but what is evident is that workers value the ability to work in a focussed way but are frustrated by the lack of provision. 

This is not the same as saying “open plan is dead”. There will be no return to private offices and cubicles, but there is no good reason why optionality cannot be provided.

"While wellness has, in some quarters, become the property industry buzzword for 2017, this is one of the most visible examples we have seen in practice and it certainly won’t be the last. Developers are increasingly including these innovative features at design stage, creating the first wave of ‘well buildings’ across the country. This phenomenon is not unique to the office sector; the industrial market is also starting to understand the benefits of putting staff first." -Property Week

-Author: Bill Page, Chairman of the BCO Research Committee.
-For more on 'What workers want' download the full report here.
-Access the BCO research page and download reports. Become a member, join the debate and help to shape the future of the industry

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