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June 6, 2016

5 Takeaways from Steelcase’s New Global Report

Shared by Senior Workplace Specialist, Heather Greene

Insights from Steelcase’s Global Engagement Report, studying 17 Countries and over 12,000 Workers

If you work in an office today, it might not come as a surprise that the office of the future is still some ways off. Steelcase embarked on an unprecedented global study, partnering with IPSOS, to see how space correlates with employee engagement, and how workers are really working all over the globe. While social media may present an image of giant open office floorplates (ala Facebook), with café’s and kitchens that rival Starbucks, and collaboration happening everywhere, most likely on a beanbag chair; the sad fact is that change is happening much more slowly. While companies acknowledge that employee engagement and innovation are two of the key drivers across every industry, many struggle with how to get there, and how to use space to support and drive their business goals.

From the study 5 Key Insights were learned;

One size does not fit all: Emerging markets are more optimistic and satisfied in the workspaces

In part because they have different expectations, the countries that ranked highest in terms of employee engagement were India, Mexico, and the UAE. People are influenced by their cultural context, and their perceptions and attitudes about their organizations and environments are formed from that. Countries with much more established economies including, France, Spain and Belgium ranked lowest on levels of engagement. This is important for Global Companies to understand as they expand and renovate spaces within different markets.

Most offices do not look like Google: in fact, 2/3 of employees work in an individual or shared private office

Popular culture leads us to believe that every company and employee work in an open office, but it is just not the case. While open workplaces do make up for approximately 33% globally, many companies still operate on a hierarchy allocation of space. Space is still the coveted reward system used. Joe gets promoted, then Joe gets a bigger workstation. Joe becomes a manager, then Joe gets a private office, but not as big as his director Paul. Sound familiar?

iPhones and tablets are not the norm: fixed technology actually exceeds mobile 2:1

Despite the fact that socially we are always on our phones, and have quickly adopted mobile devices for personal use, while in the office we are literally tethered to our desks. 86% of employees have a landline phone, and 80% of employees have a desktop computer. While some jobs require this, most are moving to a new structure of their day focused more around collaboration and innovation. How do I pick up and find the best space to collaborate when I cannot take my technology with me?  People who require digital information for collaboration, may feel tied to their space, and are therefore less likely to engage with team members who are not physically nearby. It is important when planning your new space to think about making allocations to technology, so the spaces you design can be utilized in the way intended.

Engaged employees are treated like grown ups: they have choice and control over how and where they do their best work

88% of engaged employees have control over their workspace and their workday. They can choose if they need to put their head down and do focus work, as well as control the type of space and tools needed for the meeting they are leading. They also tend to work in organizations that support two-way communication, and empower them to be autonomous. A key design insight to support choice, is designing a range of spaces based not on job titles, but on supporting a variety of activities (alone and in teams, as well as owned and shared) that are unique to each individual organization.

Your space REALLY matters: employee engagement positively correlates with workplace satisfaction

The study showed that workers who were highly satisfied with their workspace are also the ones who showed the highest level of engagement. 1 in 3 workers are actively or highly disengaged at work. The exciting aspect about this data is space really can make a difference. Being able to collaborate, choosing where to work based on task, and being able to concentrate and focus are key attributes for workplace satisfaction. Making an investment in your space, and seeing the payback not as simply a return on your investment but as return on engagement is really what we are after. Imagine what your company could do with a 50% engaged team? What about 75% engaged? What innovations would happen? What new technologies might be discovered? Ultimately, engagement and innovation go hand and hand, and making an investment not solely in your space, but in your people, is what will deliver the most exciting new opportunities!