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The State Of The Workplace 2019

October 22, 2019

Remote Working, Workplace Culture

The 2660 participants in this study, done in conjunction with Diskette Behavioural Research, were asked questions about their current and preferred working environments as well as some demographic questions to help ascertain where the future of the workplace may be heading.

In recent years, a prominent shift has taken place at work. Attitudes are changing, and working environments are being redrawn, reshaped and restructured according to a more modern set of rules. We are beginning to understand how different atmospheres impact an employee’s productivity and wellbeing, and this has led to a workplace revolution.

Greater importance is being placed upon the workplace environment and its atmosphere, particularly when individuals are looking for a new role (business owners and recruiters alike opting for more gimmicks such as free workshops, tea and coffee, and extracurriculars, and/or offering greater flexibility around working hours and locations). And yet, are all these extras necessary? In the modern working world (and especially in the age of increased flexibility) should these features be considered as perks at all? In this report, Diskette Behavioural Research aims to shed light on these prevalent issues.

 

Traditional Offices Retain Public Favour

Although it has been postulated that workers are opting for either remote working situations or for open offices, the survey found that 35.5% of participants still prefer a traditional closed office environment. When asked for any further comments about their workplace environment, participants cited a myriad of reasons including noise levels, or specialist office equipment (such as ergonomic chairs) as reasons why they prefer an enclosed office space. On the other hand, options like an open plan office, single person study, or even a comfortable sofa at home all show similar results. This implies a strong desire for flexible working, and different options to suit different individuals.

 

Offices Promote Productivity, But Employees Sense Monitoring

It’s commonly thought that offices are fairly noisy due to the team being present and chatting, however, the participants felt that they were actually more productive in an office environment. They also stated that they felt more monitored in these environments, however. Consequently, this could lead to higher levels of unnecessary stress or pressure on employees, especially in women who reported a higher level of monitoring than their male counterparts.

 

Participants Believe Flexibility Is The Key To Higher Productivity

Despite the results that the participants preferred to work in a closed office, and that they were in fact more productive currently in an office, many believe that they would be more productive in a more flexible working environment. The respondents stated that this could be because they would be able to schedule their work around their other commitments, and therefore not need to worry, or that they no longer waste time, energy and patience on a commute, or are not distracted by co-workers.

 

Office “Gimmicks” Fail To Impress Younger Workers

This outcome disproves the common pre-conception: that young professionals can be enticed by office “gimmicks”. According to the survey, young professionals actually value extra perks (such as free coffee or table tennis) to the same extent as proximity to their team, comfortable facilities and flexibility. This is perhaps even more surprising in light of Diskette’s finding that department heads and executives are more likely to prioritise office perks than their younger counterparts. This shows that younger workers prioritise a functional working space with the necessary flexibility to maintain a work/life balance, over having an “instagrammable” open office or similar gimmicks.

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Department Heads & Executives Most Keen To Work Remotely

Department Heads and Executives are most likely to opt for remote working, compared with their entry-level counterparts. So often, remote work is perceived as a relatively new trend sweeping the younger generation, yet this result flips the narrative. It seems to be the more senior members of staff who are seeking to work remotely at some point in the future.

Respondents prioritised comfort, greater privacy and peace and quiet above all else: affording individuals plenty of space to focus on specific tasks. This is reinforced by the fact that professionals within this demographic prefer to operate from single person studies, to a far greater extent than any other subsection surveyed.

 

16% Consider The Workplace A Negative Influence On Mental Wellbeing

Nowadays, employees spend an enormous amount of time at their desks. Surroundings can therefore have an intense impact on mental health, mood, and wellbeing. According to Diskette, 16.6% of respondents reported that their workplace environment had an entirely negative or mostly negative effect on their mental wellbeing. This is deeply worrying for businesses, and illustrates the power of a healthy working environment. Respondents highlighted poor light, temperature levels, cramped desks and poor office culture as the most negative aspects of their workplace environment.

 

23% Quit, or Considered Quitting On Account of A Poor Working Environment

Almost a quarter of participants have previously left a post, or considering quitting on account of a poor working environment, according to Diskette. A further 4.5% remain uncertain about their stance. This is a significant figure in terms of maintaining a healthy workforce, particularly with regard to retention. The cost of hiring and training each new member of staff can prove monumental, whereas simply altering working conditions and environments could lessen the financial and logistical burden. Respondents cited ‘micromanagment’, ‘toxic cliques’, and ‘poor office design’ as major factors, and stressed the importance of good light, low noise and general functionality.

 

The workplace is somewhere that we spend the majority of our time, so ensuring that it is functional, comfortable and a positive environment for our mental wellbeing is of the utmost importance. This may be difficult to achieve when running a team of people, all with different individual needs and preferences, but flexibility is at the top of the list for many prospective employees, and something that businesses should be prepared for moving forward in the modern working world.

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