The Savills Blog

New survey reveals what office workers want

Office workers

There are many factors that contribute to a happy workplace: engaged staff, interesting work and appropriate remuneration, but the work environment also has a role to play. A good one can inspire and motivate, a bad one alienate and discourage. 

This is our third What Workers Want survey, carried out in partnership with the British Council for Offices, to determine what over a thousand office workers up and down the UK really think about their office space. From the results, it’s possible to discover what organisations can do to ensure their workplace falls into the former camp, rather than the latter.

When we asked workers what is most important to them in the workplace, the basics come top. The length of the commute to the office, its overall cleanliness, access to a number of lavatories, good quality WiFi and having quiet spaces in which to work are the five most important factors. But where it got really interesting is when we asked them again how satisfied they are with all these factors. By comparing this with the importance scores, we were able to see which factors workers think are important, but are least satisfied with – what we have termed the ‘satisfaction gap’.

"Satisfaction Gap" or "Frustration Factor"

One of the lessons here for employers is that they need to prioritise increasing the number of quiet spaces: it may only be the fifth most important factor to workers, but it has the biggest satisfaction gap. This shouldn’t mean a return to private offices or cubicles, but giving workers a choice of location so they can vary their environment depending on what they’re doing. Workers who can’t concentrate are likely to be less productive, so there’s a very strong business case for making improvements. The other big wins are upgrading WiFi networks – seemingly these have failed to keep up with advances in personal technology, frustrating many – and making sure office cleaning is carried out to a high standard.

Despite their gripes about the office, however, most workers don’t wish to abandon it to work from home. The proportion which favours home working has actually dropped since we last undertook the survey in 2013, from 45 per cent to 28 per cent. The desire for a dedicated desk in the office, meanwhile, has risen from 41 per cent to 60 per cent today. But workers don’t want to be shackled to that desk: 29 per cent want the ability to work from a variety of different locations in the office and almost half (48 per cent) think that having access to space where they can collaborate with their colleagues is important.

The key therefore appears to be to give employees a choice of how and where they work, while also providing a desk space to call their own.

Further information

Read the full report: What Workers Want


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