5 Signs it’s Time for a Workplace Consultancy

We’d all like to work in an office that’s more Silicon Valley than Slough Trading Estate but it can be hard to judge when your office environment switches from being a minor gripe to a major problem. Short of an office strike, are there any tell-tale signs that it might be time to consider freshening things up?

1. Productivity is Lower than You'd Like

The UK has a well-known productivity problem; Expert Market’s annual productivity index ranked Britain as the 17th most productive nation in 2017 — trailing such economic titans as Luxembourg, Iceland, and New Zealand. 

There could be any number of reasons for this, but often overlooked is the role working environment plays. According to the Leesman Index , just 57% of employees surveyed felt that their workplace enabled them to work productively. Worse still, for a quarter of workplaces globally this figure is less than 50%.

Of course, big macro trends don’t tell the whole story and the reasons for low productivity vary from business to business. But, some of the most common factors include lack of space for collaborative working, no support for creative thinking/focus based work and poor mobility for employees (being chained to a desk all day).

What does the future of workspace look like? Take a look at our insightful  eBook.

So, if your productivity has taken a nosedive or you simply feel your business could be doing better, the environment you’re asking staff to work in is a great place to start. A workplace consultancy can help you isolate the unique issues holding your staff back through employee interviews and current usage analysis.

 2. Your Staff Are Often Sick

If staff sickness becomes a long-term trend rather than the usual seasonal office wipeout and incidents isolated to individuals, then you likely have a problem. What’s more, it might be down to your office environment.

We often think of sickness as a purely physical thing, but there is a direct link between staff absences and employee disengagement. According to research conducted by Investopedia on behalf of Forbes, disengagement is one of the major causes of absenteeism — simply because employees who don’t feel connected to their work generally have less motivation to go.

This is a bigger problem than many people are willing to credit: Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace report revealed that employee disengagement could be as high as 85% worldwide. Little wonder then that we have a global productivity problem, that’s a lot of sick days.

What can you do?

Well, while there are many reasons for disengagement — effectively as many as there are for being unhappy at work — one that’s completely within your organisation’s control is the working environment.

It’s amazing what office design can do for staff morale and motivation. It could be something simple like brightening up dark and dingy rooms or using space more creatively to help staff feel less like particularly cramped sardines. Equally, it could be something more complex like overhauling the way your office is organised to support Agile working.

Whatever approach you end up taking, being sure it’s the right one is incredibly important. After all, you don’t want to plough time and money into something that turns out to be ineffective and the best way to avoid this is a workplace consultancy.

3. You Have Trouble Attracting and Keeping Top Talent

Remember that dream candidate for the job you advertised? The one who was instantly likeable, had all the skills for the job, and seemed like manna from candidate heaven. Why didn’t they join? Everything was going so well until we showed them around the office.

Ok, so maybe that’s a little unrealistic, but it’s not that far removed from a conversation happening in HR departments up and down the country. A much-referenced 2014 study from global architecture and design firm Hassell Studio, found that companies’ workspaces were even more influential than salary on job seekers’ final decision on where to work.

Our environments say a lot about us, in the same way that you’d probably derive a negative first impression of the owner of a messy apartment, so too will your candidates form their view of your business from how your workplace looks. The good news is that it can be relatively simple to fix and doesn’t have to involve going all Google and installing aquariums and games rooms (chances are you don’t have a virtually limitless budget). However, you do need good advice on your options and how to pursue them in the most cost-effective way.

4. Your Monthly Bills Make you Sad

Do you get that sinking feeling every month when your real estate bill comes through? Do you often question how the space you work in costs so much when set against how many staff actually use it?

You’re not alone. In our experience, very few businesses are using their office space optimally. A key offender is desks. Desks require more floor space than just about anything else you’re likely to find in an office, yet, according to our research, average desk occupation is now rarely over 50%.

Worse still though, are meeting rooms. Think about it, how often are your meeting rooms occupied? We’re guessing the answer is less than 50% of the day, which rather begs the question what are you paying for?

To be clear, we’re not advocating for you holding all your meetings in the local pub instead or doing away with desks, however, we do believe there are smart ways to utilise the space you have and often reduce what you actually need. In fact, our approach to workplace consultancy means that we regularly help clients achieve a real estate saving of between 15% – 35% through smarter working practices.

5. Staff Regularly Complain

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that your staff will always find something to complain about, but the character and regularity of their grumbles are important. For example, if your team are always raising concerns about pay or holiday, it’s probably a job for HR rather than us.

However, if you’re regularly hearing complaints about things like staff comfort, the breakout areas or kitchen, and the lack of space for collaborative working — then it’s time to start thinking about calling in Rhino. Failing to do so risks impacting productivity, staff retention, employee sickness rates, and, ultimately, the performance of your business.

While we've provided some pointers on identifying problems with your workplace before they become disasters, it's important to stress that 'new' is no guarantee of success. According to the Leesman Index, only a third of workplace overhaul projects achieve high staff performance and productivity, partly down to organisations not adapting work practices to their new space but also because of poorly thought out design. So before you drop next year's budget on a 'neo-industrial' office overhaul it's worth considering what's likely to be most effective for your  space and your business and a workplace consultancy with the experts is the best way to achieve this. 

To learn more about how we can help you get to the bottom of what your office and team need to perform at their best, visit our workplace consultancy page.

Check out our guide on future workspaces for inspiration on transforming your organisation's workplace.

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