What do we mean by people centric (sometimes also called human centric)? Being people centric means always putting people first and at the centre of your decisions. When it comes to business, staff are the most important and valuable asset a company has. Without staff there is no business. It’s therefore important to make staff a priority within the workplace.
One way of doing this within a company is by making workspaces people focussed. Instead of focussing purely on function, workspaces should be designed to be tailored to your staff rather than your staff having to fit in or make do with the space available to them. It’s therefore important to consider the people using the space – one size won’t fit all. Look at how it will impact staff in terms of ease of use, meeting their needs and efficiency.
Surveys Into The Impact Of People Centric Office Space
According to a survey carried out in June 2022 by Gartner Inc of 400 leaders and employees, employees who operate in “human-centric” work models are 3.8 times more likely to be high performing. Other benefits included a 3-fold decrease in fatigue levels and a 3-fold increase in job satisfaction thereby decreasing staff turnover.
Graham Waller, the vice president of the Gartner Executive Leadership practice said “While many organizations have implemented a hybrid work strategy, the focus is still limited to one dimension: flexibility around where employees work. To gain competitive advantage, organizations must go beyond location flexibility and place human beings at the center of work, rather than treating them as secondary components of their work environment.”
The “Human Experience” report, an online survey of 2033 office workers across 10 countries by JJL found that “employees still retain a strong affinity for the office, especially as it relates to providing a sense of community and belonging – where remote work has led to gaps in supporting collaboration, leadership and managerial competencies. Seventy percent of employees believe an office environment is more conducive to team building and management support.”
Resume Now surveyed 1,000 workers and published their “Power of People: Human-centric Workplace [2023 Report]”. The report found that there was an increasing recognition within businesses that prioritising staff health and well-being alongside development and job satisfaction improves business ROI and outcomes.
Studies Into The Impact Of People Centric Office Space
A study by Steelcase resulted in five key findings which included the fact that employee engagement positively correlates with workplace satisfaction and engaged employees have more control over their experiences at work.
Steelcase utilises its Learning and Innovation Center (LINC) to help to understand how office space is being used and to measure how effective the design of the office space is and how it can be improved to “provide organizations with an understanding of how their people are working” and “empower facility and real estate managers with knowledge regarding what sizes and types of spaces best support workers.”
Jenny Carroll, a user interaction designer at Steelcase explains “Work is changing so quickly; you can’t really prescribe how a room is used. Real-time data that gives you insight on behavior and how people work can help create more human-centered workplaces.”
A Great Place To Work presented research which shows A People-Centric Workplace [is] Good for Growth and Profits. They looked at turnover rates in a number of companies over a five-year period and found that lower turnover was seen in those businesses where there was a people-centric culture.
A Great Place To Work went onto explain “that organizations with a thriving workplace culture tend to grow significantly faster than peers, and the “best” companies that we study year after year offer valuable lessons on building an organizational strategy that puts employees at the center.”
The Benefits of People Centric Office Design
Office spaces that have been designed to be people centric come with many benefits both for the staff and the business. These include:
Higher job satisfaction among employees
When an employee feels valued, and their workspace reflects this they are more likely to be motivated and engaged. Morale is also likely to be higher which in turn feeds into increased productivity. Health and well-being will also be improved.
Lower turnover of staff
Staff retention is a key indicator of how employees feel. Do they feel valued, listened to? Does their workspace enable them to get on with their work – or hinder them, making it harder to perform the tasks they’ve been set? When staff are happy this will lead to a decrease in turnover within the business.
When staff are content, and their health and wellbeingare good they are far more likely to come into work and absenteeism will be low. On the other hand, where staff feel disengaged from their work and company and are under stress, they are far more likely to fall ill and take time off work.
Research shows that happiness is the new indicator of performance. A study “Does Employee Happiness have an Impact on Productivity?” carried out by the Saïd Business School found that happier workers were 12% more productive than their colleagues. The study also found that workers who were happy tend to be focussed, able to complete tasks successfully and make fewer mistakes when compared to unhappy staff who were more prone to being distracted from their work, leading to errors being made.
It’s been known for years that with happy employees comes increased productivity which in turn leads tohigher company profits. Forbes reported back in 2014 that “revenues increased by an average of 22.2 percent for the 2014 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these same companies added new employees at rate that was five times higher than the national average.”
Designing An Office To Be People Centric
So how do you go about designing your office space to be people centric? It’s an important question if you’re to make your office space people focussed, rather than task or technology focussed. Of course, tasks, work processes and technology matter but the office space needs to be made to work for staff and not the other way round.
Here are a few of the steps you can take if you’re designing your office space to be more people centric.
Making staff a priority begins with involving them in the process
The first step in the process is to listen to and consult with your staff to find out what they actually need. It’s also worth spending some time observing how people work and how they use their office space as well as how they engage with each other. By doing this you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what staff really need, rather than what you think they may need.
Prioritise solutions that help staff to do their work
There’s always going to be more than one way of doing things therefore you should look to the solution that will be most helpful to your staff. Ask them what would work best for them. What will make it easier for them to successfully complete a task? Is the solution suitable for everyone or is more than one solution required? A solution that helps staff work efficiently will also benefit your business.
We know that many workers are looking for flexibility and a better work life balance. According to Deloitte who carried out a Workplace flexibility survey 94% of those surveyed said “they would benefit from work flexibility, with the top gains being less stress, improved mental health, and better integration of work and personal life.” If a flexible office design solution would benefit your business, there are a number of options to review including:
- an agile office which is designed for maximum flexibility and which can be arranged, organised and changed on demand, as and when required. An agile office can easily and simply adapt to any given circumstance so it can cater to business needs both now and into the future.
- a hybrid office which caters for a mix of remote and office working. A hybrid office needs to be adaptable through: the layout and the use of modular, multifunctional furniture that can be changed quickly and easily and the use of technology to allow easy and effective communication for all staff whether they are office, remote office or home based.
- hot desking or collaborative working solutions can also provide work flexibility.
Think about office layout
Office layout plays an important role in how staff work and interact with each other. Different types of office layouts can work well for different types of businesses and work processes. When it comes to choosing the “perfect” office layout whether it be open plan, hybrid, individual or based on working practices e.g. Activity Based Working (ABW) you should consider:
- the tasks that need to be carried out and the workflow.
- the type of work that’s being done and if it requires privacy.
- whether teamwork is involved and if you’ll need team or collaborative workspaces.
- if separate meeting areas are required e.g., to meet with clients.
- whether a reception area is essential.
- breakout areas, tea points and/or a kitchen.
Having quiet areas
There are times when we need a quiet area where we can retreat to do work or to take some time out. We know that noise can have a major impact on productivity and there are times when staff need to be able to focus and concentrate on the work they’ll be doing. Trying to concentrate can very difficult when noise levels are high. This is borne out by work by Berry and Banbury who showed that a noisy office can reduce the accuracy of work carried out by as much as 67%. Research carried out by the Danish National Research Centre for Working Environment and others have shown that it is therefore vital to get office acoustics right at planning stage when undertaking an office refurbishment.
Factor in break out areas
Where space allows for break out areas they should be considered.
Studies have shown that taking breaks and time away from work can actually help to boost productivity. Despite the fact this sounds contrary to what you would have thought a BBC article “The tiny breaks that ease your body and reboot your brain” explains that “though the breaks are tiny, they can have a disproportionately powerful impact – studies have shown that they can improve workers’ ability to concentrate, change the way they see their jobs, and even help them avoid the typical injuries that people get when they’re tied to their desks all day.” This is backed up by Robert Pozen, a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management who says that “taking a break every 75 and 90 minutes is the period of time where you can concentrate and get a lot of work done. When people do a task and then take a break for 15 minutes, they help their brain consolidate information and retain it better. That’s what’s happening, physiology during breaks.”
People centric office spaces clearly come with many benefits, but they do require careful planning and preparation. That’s why it’s vital to do the research and plan ahead before your next office refurbishment.
JBH Refurbishments, Experts In Office Design and Refurbishment
JBH Refurbishments have over 30+ years experience in office design, office refurbishments and fit outs. We provide Cat A and Cat B fitouts for landlords for Kent or London office refurbishments. We also work in partnership with the UK’s market leading specialists in arranging finance packages for businesses looking to carry out a workplace refurbishment. You can contact us on 0333 207 0339 or via our contact page today for a free on-site consultation.