Office working still necessary for productivity, study finds

Staff need on average three days a week (2.91) in the office to achieve maximum productivity, according to a new study by construction services company ISG.

The Power of Place: The Impact of Human Behaviour, reported that employees believe spending on average three days a week in the office would be optimal for productivity, compared to the lower average of two and a half days (2.53) a week anticipated by employers.

Yet an average of 2.36 days per week in the office were identified by employees as the most beneficial to their wellbeing.

Answers varied depending on the quality of work environments as employees with a good quality working setup preferred to be in the office for an average of 1.76 days per week, compared to 2.42 days for those who have a poor arrangement.

Conducted both before the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019 and then again in September this year after many had worked exclusively from home long term, the survey also found professional pride dipped 10% for full time remote workers.

Those who opted to work from home full time reported they were 5% less likely to meet their objectives when compared to those who want to return to the office.

Lee Phillips, managing director for UK fit-out at ISG, said: “COVID-19 has impacted every single person in the UK and our survey is a unique insight into changing workplace sentiment over a nine month period of unparalleled societal change.

“Capturing insights at a moment in time last year of optimism and aspiration, and then resurveying individuals following six months of a global emergency and transformational working patterns is hugely revealing for employers, employees, the built environment, society and future workplace trends.”

Phillips added that the shifts in workplace sentiment will be crucial for organisational success in the future.

He commented: “Over a third of respondents indicated they would be likely to leave their current employer if not given flexibility, so employers are on notice that a failure to adapt to the new normal of employee expectations could prove costly to both retaining and attracting the best talent.”

The initial survey was conducted by Sapio Research in December 2019 among 5,779 office workers in companies of over 250 employees.

The second survey was conducted by Sapio Research in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic among 4005 office workers.

Further reading:

Don’t let the office ‘die’ – for the sake of young professionals

Employees becoming ‘emotionally remote’ during coronavirus

Will lockdown prove to be a creative desert or oasis?