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Shifting Workplace Trends

12 June 2018 / by Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) (author) / London
 (photo: Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license)
/ (photo: Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license)

A new global report released today looks at the drivers and perceived benefits of alternative workplace programmes, uncovering the leadership and workplace strategy implications for organisational leaders.


The study which is published under the title, ‘The Once Alternative Workplace Strategies’, was conducted and released by Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), Global Workplace Analytics, and Haworth Inc - with support from IFMA Workplace Evolutionaries.


Based on a survey of 130 organisations representing over 2.3 million employees globally, the research pinpoints five leading trends within today’s workplaces, and compares findings to initial research undertaken more than a decade ago.


‘Alternative workplace’ programmes or practices can be defined as ‘the combination of non-traditional work practices, settings and locations that supplement or replace traditional offices’. While some may argue that these styles are no longer ‘alternative’ and are becoming increasingly more common, the 10-year study honoured the original phrasing to best ensure continuity.


The 2018 report has unearthed several key trends including:

1.     Only 7 per cent of respondents believe implementing alternative workplace programmes can negatively impact productivity

Managers often worry that alternative workplace programmes will lower employee productivity. In most cases, the opposite is true.


2.     People impacts are now the primary measure of success

The potential for cost savings might kick-start the programme, but along the way leaders begin to see how making work better for people can deliver far more than they thought.


3.     Internal mobility has more than doubled

With the rising use of technology and ‘smart working’, an increasing number of employees are roaming offices freely, making the most of flexible environments and resources. Internal mobility has more than doubled in the past 10 years, while external mobility has remained the same.


4.     Assigned seats die hard

The percentage of full-time office-based employees who are permanently assigned to one particular space (48 per cent) has remained virtually unchanged since 2008.


5.     Employee involvement is decreasing 

As alternative workplace programmes increase in size and maturity, the report shows employee involvement in the planning, implementation and evaluation has significantly decreased. This runs contrary to what the researchers have found works best: the more people involved in the process, the more likely they are to accept and own it.


Researcher Insights 

Chris Hood, research lead and one of the directors at Advanced Workplace Associates: “Unfortunately, the results of this global study demonstrate that a high percentage of companies still see this as a real estate initiative and not the opportunity to reinvent their businesses in deeper and more transformational ways. Workplace innovation is a litmus test for management quality and leadership. This isn’t about real estate, it’s actually about people and business outcomes.”


Dr. Gabor Nagy, research programme manager at Haworth: “There is tremendous value in longitudinal studies, as they truly capture long-term trends. We started this study back in 2008, in the middle of the recession when cost savings were perceived as the top benefit of these programmes. Now, work/life balance has become the number one benefit. Only time will tell whether we will see a reversal of this trend when the next recession comes.”


Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics: “It’s great to see the trend toward more human-centric measures of success. I believe this is an indication that organisations are taking a less-siloed and more holistic approach to workplace change. They are realising that workplaces and work practices that work for people are good for the bottom line.”


To download the free report, please visit https://www.advanced-workplace.com/alternative-workplace-strategies-report-2018/.




About the Researchers/Authors

Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) is a multi-disciplined and independent management consultancy that helps large organisations to get the most from their workplace investments, practices and management. Founded in 1992, AWA has delivered technologically and behaviourally-complex projects to transform work, the workplace and workplace management for large and politically involved organisations. Our clients include Morgan Stanley, Ernst & Young, Willis Towers Watson, AXA, Royal Bank of Scotland, Mintel, Asda, the Home Office, The UK Border Agency and LloydsTSB.


Haworth, Inc 

Globally, Haworth, Inc., enriches spaces with award-winning furniture, interior architecture and technology solutions to help create beautiful rooms and achieve business goals by supporting collaboration and innovation. Research, knowledge and design are at the center of the company's strategy and foster a deep understanding of built environments, culture transformations and agile workplace needs. With a strong history of craft, innovation and 400 patents, Haworth provides customers with tailored, inspiring spaces that enhance business, stir spirits and improve lives around the world. Headquartered in Holland, Michigan, U.S.A, the company had net sales of USD $2 billion in 2017.


Global Workplace Analytics 

Global Workplace Analytics is a San Diego-based research and consulting organization that helps public and private sector employers establish workplace change goals and quantify the impact of workplace flexibility, mobile work, telecommuting, activity-based working, well-being programs, and more. Established in 2006, Global Workplace Analytics has collaborated on thought leadership projects with some of the world’s largest providers of architectural, design, and strategy services.


Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA)


Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA)

We’re a group of great people from different disciplines who have a common outlook on the way work should be. We love to improve organisations through new ways of thinking and working. Our approach is a unique blend of scientific analysis, creativity and cultural change – we use all three to make a change at work. Since our birth in 1992 we’ve worked with organisations of all sizes in most sectors. The common denominator: people. All our clients are looking to optimise the use of their people and offices to improve business performance. www.advanced-workspace.com

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