Written by Jacob Montague and

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A new survey conducted by property experts Savills, of 11,000 office-based workers across Europe, highlights the emerging trends and pitfalls of the modern working environment. Although loosely aimed at developers, the “What Workers Want: Europe” survey can enlighten current employers and help to combat ‘presenteeism’, employee retainment, and work dissatisfaction, as it pinpoints a number of, perhaps obvious, office faux-pas.

Office Plan:

When asked where employees would like to spend the majority or their working time, an overwhelming 52% stated that they wanted a dedicated desk. Just 4% enjoyed ‘co-working’ and 18% chose working from home. Furthermore, 30% of workers in an open-plan office felt that their working environment negatively affected their productivity compared with 11% in private layouts; this increases to 45% of employees where the employer had instigated a hot-desking policy. This appears to impact UK employees the most as this statistic advanced further to 50% when solely based on the UK findings. Employers may need to reconsider the best way to galvanise efficiency; there is a perceived rejection of modern open plan and a yearning for traditional atmospheres.

This seems to correlate with other parts of the research conducted; the third most popular answer when employees were asked “what are the most important factors for your workplace?” was “a quiet space for focused work”. Similarly, cleanliness, noise level (which rose to 83% this year), comfort of work area and lighting, were all chosen by over 80% of those surveyed; as the report states it’s a case of employers “getting the basics right”.

Retaining your workers:

Talent retention is an issue that effects businesses of all sizes. 49% of UK workers expect to leave their current employer within the next 5 years. In tandem with the statistics above relating to hot-desk policies, 17% of employees felt they would most like to change their personal workspace at their office and 16% felt they would most like to change the internal design and fit-out. Savills comments that “with more flexible working styles including hot-desking and co-working, workers do not feel they have the ability to change and manage their own personal workspace, and this affects them”. Employers may find that their staff are more willing to leave their current role if shown that another role offers the opportunity of managing their own dedicated workspace.


Dialogue is key and perhaps the most important statistic the survey offers is that when asked if their employee’s current workplace matched their ideal workplace what would the effect be? 63% of employees felt that this would increase productivity. Employee engagement can never be underestimated and can often be key to unlocking a wealth of talent and enthusiasm from existing employees. “Workers need a choice of workspace in order to allow them to realise their full potential” comments the survey. Whilst the numbers of those opposing shared/open workplaces are expected to fall, offering a choice will help address the rigidity vs flexibility argument in order to best suit your business needs.

Forbury People specialises in helping companies engage with their employees. For more information on how we can help you or to get in touch, find our contact page here.

3rd July 2019