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11 Dec 2019

Do new workplaces work?

Words by  Photo by Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Peggie Rothe, development director at Leesman, questions if change  in the office really is for the better

Change doesn’t come easily. Indeed, research often cited by McKinsey & Company – and countless other groups – suggests that organisations’ change programmes fail to meet their objectives 70% of the time. It’s a significant number, but does it hold up to scrutiny when looking specifically at workplace change projects? This question was the basis for Leesman’s latest report – ‘The Workplace Experience Revolution Part 2: Do new workplaces work’.

Photo by Mark West on UnsplashPhoto by Mark West on Unsplash

Part one of the series, published in 2018, revealed the factors that are the strongest drivers of outstanding workplace experience. This latest study takes that investigation further by exploring the challenges organisations face when it comes to delivering employee experience in new workplaces.

Leesman, the world’s leading assessor of employee workplace experience, has collected 600,000+ responses from more than 4,000 workplaces worldwide. By diving into our expansive data bank, the Leesman Index, we were able to analyse 346 spaces that were measured in the post‐occupancy phase after a workplace relocation or refurbishment.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on UnsplashPhoto by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

There is good and bad news for the workplace design community. The good news is that the 70% failure figure does not carry over. Our research found that 41% of new workplaces deliver an exceptional employee experience, scoring a Leesman Index average (Lmi) of 70 or above (out of

The bad news is that this isn’t exactly something to write home about. Our data suggests that a further 40% are not maximising their full potential, achieving an Lmi of 60‐60.9, and 19% are outright failing, recording below 60.

Photo by Jean Philippe Delberghe on UnsplashPhoto by Jean Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

So, where are new workplaces succeeding and where are they failing? The data suggests that workplace change projects generally succeed in bringing people together. The vast majority of respondents in these spaces reported support with ‘planned meetings’ (87% on average), ‘informal social interaction’ (84.4%), and satisfaction with ‘accessibility to colleagues’ (72.3%).

Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on UnsplashPhoto by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

However, new workplaces appear to fall short when it comes to supporting lone working. On average, only 59% of employees in the new workplaces were satisfied with ‘private conversations’, for example, while on average just 33.4% of respondents reported satisfaction with ‘noise levels’.

It’s a pretty damning statistic – and one that betrays the reason so many change management initiatives fail. Designs that boost collaboration might be all the rage, but they should never come at the expense of other critical elements of work. Certainly not without proper inquiry.

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