Tangible links between productivity and office space

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By Stephanie Zillman

Most people associate a positive company culture with employee benefits, internal programs, and supportive leadership styles.

Yet physical workspace factors can have an equally profound impact.

Heidi Pollard, CEO of UQ Power, a consultancy company to the mining and resources industry, commented that a great workspace is more than just a desk and a chair.

“Environment is a critical factor in successfully building trust, collaboration and communication in a workplace,” Pollard said

The recent focus on so-called “activity-based” office environments, whereby employees choose their seating location based on the activity they are working on, have started to take off for good reason. Commonwealth Bank, KPMG, Microsoft, Macquarie Bank, and NAB have all switched to this mode of working.

Generally, the office space is divided into areas for quiet tasks and areas for collaboration. It can involve “hot-desking” and different types of quiet spaces and collaborative spaces to suit various tasks. Think individual working pods and café-style open areas where meetings can take place.

“This approach takes the focus off presenteeism and respects employees’ preferred mode of working. It offers more independence, it empowers employees and it helps to builds trust,” Pollard said.

Goodman is another organisation which has switched to activity based working, and cites the benefits as:

  • Increased staff collaboration and productivity;
  • Flexible modes of work;
  • Improved work environment and job satisfaction;
  • Reduction in power, paper and real estate costs.
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