World of work: It’s not that flexible, is it?

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A new study released by the British Council for Offices has revealed that the vast majority of employees in the East of England do not work from home at all, dispelling the myth that the bricks and mortar office is a thing of the past.

The poll of 1,000 office workers in the East of the country, carried out by YouGov, found that employees greatly valued the social benefits of working in a communal space.

Being able to meet colleagues face to face (75 per cent) and interactions with other employees (73 per cent) were rated the top office perks, above access to technology including files and documents (68 per cent) and better computer hardware and software (35 per cent).

The research also found that 73 per cent voted their personal workspace as a vital element of workplace design, one which also had a positive impact on their ability to work efficiently. This comes as organisations increasingly opt to erode desk ownership through open plan office models.

Noise was seen as one of the worst aspects of the office, suggesting employees are not well served by one dimensional work places with a single design model rather than a range of working environments.

Half of all respondents (55 per cent) said fewer interruptions was one of the biggest benefits of working from home, while 38 per cent opted for ‘quiet’ and 38 per cent said that it was easier to concentrate.

This was particularly the case for women – 42 per cent of female respondents compared to 29 per cent of male employees could focus better in a domestic setting.

The study revealed that employers risk alienating employees by not getting their buy-in before redesigning office space to support flexible working.

Only 28 per cent of employees in the East of the country had ever been consulted on the design of their office space, despite the fact that 75 per cent said they would like to be involved. The recommendation is the key point in the BCO’s new Guide to Fit-Out, launched this month, which will provide a framework for best practice in office design.

The BCO is calling upon employers to take a democratic approach to office design by giving staff a say in the look and feel of their workplaces.