The home office is considered to be the most productive workspace in 2018, according to research by Jabra. The global survey of business professionals in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France found that nearly one in three U.K. employees considers working from home to be the most productive yet the majority are not allowed to. This highlights that U.K. businesses still have a long way to go in providing flexible working options for their employees.
Nigel Dunn, managing director of EMEA North at Jabra points out that to be productive, employees need to be able to concentrate.
That’s not always possible in today’s busy, open-plan environments where distractions abound. It could be colleagues coming up to ask questions, meetings that fall right when you’ve got into the ‘zone’ or merely the general hubbub of day-to-day office life. There is also the fact that the strict office working regime often isn’t conducive to productive working. Not everyone works best between the fixed hours of 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with many employees preferring to work early in the morning.
Dunn argues that there is an outdated belief that every employer is deaf to its workers’ arguments about homeworking.
“Many businesses are looking for any opportunity to increase productivity and if employees can prove that they work better at home, then most sensible managers will at least explore the option.” However, Dunn added that homeworking was far from commonplace. “A large part of that is down to issues of trust. It’s understandable that employers might be nervous about surrendering oversight of their workers but it doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s technologies mean that it’s easy to check in and communicate with employees who aren’t in the office; they also enable workers to collaborate with each other no matter where they are.”
The survey also explored what hindered productivity in the workplace where noise was considered the number one deterrent to productivity, with the most annoying type of noise for office workers the sound of colleagues talking to each other in their direct vicinity. Unsurprisingly, given advances in technology, the workforce has become more mobile in 2018. A higher number of people claim that more time is spent away from their primary workplace. In the U.K., on average almost half a working day is spent away from the desk at the office, be it walking around (13%) or driving to places (9%).
Dunn believes that as homeworking increases, workspaces need to be rationalized.
That means businesses have to support mobile workers whenever they drop into the office, with a balance of open plan and meeting areas/rooms for smaller meetings, one-to-one chats or as spaces where someone can find pace and quiet to concentrate on their work.”
The survey also explored the challenges of making meetings more productive. It found that office workers see a lack of preparation (38%), decision-making (30%) and attendees coming in late for a meeting (30%) as the key obstacles to productive meetings. One of the fastest-growing annoyances is meetings not starting on time due to technical issues: the U.S. saw a 100% increase in such occurrences in 2018 compared to 2015.