Improving office environment could add £39.8 billion to UK economy

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Creating optimal working conditions could significantly boost the UK's economy, research has found

Ricoh and Oxford Economics explored how culture, the physical workspace and technology affect performance and productivity. The Economy of People study found that the UK could achieve a 1.8% increase in GDP if businesses created optimal environments.

However, the research found that while there was agreement over what creates a strong office environment, businesses did not have the tools to implement this.

It found that executives unanimously agreed strong company culture remains critical to improving employee trust (87%), motivation (83%), and wellbeing (69%).

Both 71% of Millennials and 71% of Generation Z felt that their organisation’s approach to ethics and sustainability positively affects their performance. This compared to 83% of employees aged 38 to 52 and 83% of those aged 53 and above.

When it came to the physical workspace, 93% of all employees agreed that working from a fixed location is where they're most productive. Additionally 85% said their workstation was essential to productivity. However, the research suggested that executives underestimate the importance of people's workstations, with only 64% seeing them as a driver of productivity.

Despite growing demand for flexible working, only 26% of employees feel they are productive working from home. However, 78% believe they could be more so if given the right technology. But only 44% of executives feel they provide technology that supports remote working effectively.

Technology was found to be the greatest driver of productivity, cited by both employees (77%) and employers (90%). However, the study exposed potential disagreement between members of the executive team. Only 77% of CEOs said the right technology infrastructure can lead to greater business performance, versus 87% of CFOs, 86% of CHROs and 84% of CIOs.

Overall the majority of executives surveyed (70%) felt that an optimal office environment could increase the productivity of their organisation by up to 10%.

Phil Keoghan, CEO of Ricoh UK and Ireland, said that businesses must strive to improve working conditions to financially prepare for the business challenges ahead.

“As we reflect on the past 10 years of productivity and consider what the next two years hold, it’s clear 2018 represents a critical crossroads,” he said.

“As a business community we have a responsibility and opportunity to ensure tomorrow is better than the day before and improving the way we work together can positively reshape the UK and Ireland’s economic trajectories for the foreseeable future.”

Andy Logan, associate director at Oxford Economics, added: “The survey evidence shows both employers and employees think investment in optimally-designed offices would boost productivity across the UK and Ireland. This would deliver a significant contribution to both countries’ GDP.”

Ricoh and Oxford Economics conducted in-depth interviews with 200 executives and 200 employees across the UK and Ireland.

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