9 July 2016

Global study shows employees lack the tools to focus at work

Plantronics has announced the results of a global Oxford Economics study on the effects of open workplaces on employees. The research studied what workers want from their office environments, and what managers need to do to enable the highest productivity and satisfaction from their people.

Oxford Economics interviewed more than 1,200 senior executives and non-manager employees from many industries and functional areas. Respondents came from the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, India, China, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. The study also included detailed interviews with executives who are taking steps to deal with these business collaboration and productivity challenges in their open offices.

Key findings were:
  • Workers just want to work. The ability to focus without interruptions is a top priority for employees when it comes to office design; access to amenities like free food is far less important.
  • Technology integration is a work in progress. Employees are expected to be connected to the office all the time—but only 40% say the devices they use at home integrate seamlessly with their work tools.
  • Constant connectivity breeds compulsive behaviour—and could lead to burnout. More than one-third of employees say they use their tech devices primarily out of habit or compulsion, fear of missing out, or social pressure.
  • Managers don’t see the problems. Nearly two-thirds of executives say employees are equipped with the tools they need to deal with distractions at work; less than half of employees agree.

“Noise and distraction have a big impact on productivity,” says Edward Cone, Deputy Director of Thought Leadership and Technology Practice Lead at Oxford Economics. “These are issues that companies can address—but first they need to acknowledge the problem.”

The report lists the following recommendations for employers, to help their employees work more productively, which is something the report says workers want to do:
  • Begin a dialogue with employees about what is working and what needs to change regarding office design, working remotely, and technology use
  • Ensure employees have the tools and devices needed to work from anywhere
  • Give employees the quiet time, spaces, and tools required to conduct focused work
  • Encourage everyone to disconnect after hours, to find a balance between work and life

Since employee satisfaction and productivity contribute directly to an organisation’s financial success, this research concludes that a well-designed office space, integrated technology, and better work/life balance are well worth the effort.


Download the paper