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Workplace productivity trends - Are employees more productive in the office or at home?

Workplace productivity trends - Are employees more productive in the office or at home?

By Heather Nezich

Jabra, the global leader in audio and communication technology, recently revealed the top workplace productivity trends for 2018. The trends are based on a survey among business professionals in the U.S., UK, Germany, and France.


Global trends summary: 

  • Workspace: Home is where the productivity is: four times more employees in 2018 perceive working from home to be the most productive option for them, compared to 2015.

  • Hindering factors: Noise is still considered the number one deterrent to workplace productivity. The type of noise that annoys office workers most is colleagues talking to each other in their direct vicinity.

  • Meetings: Office workers see lack of preparation (38%), decision making (30%), and attendees coming in late for a meeting (30%) as the key obstacles to productive meetings.


Country specific key findings:

  • U.S.: According to 50% of employees, discussions without a proper direction are the main obstacle to productive meetings.

  • UK: Half a working day (43%) is spent away from the desk at the office, i.e. walking around (13%) or driving to places (9%).

  • France: The majority (56%) of employees listen to music to focus or block out office noise.

  • Germany: Half of office workers (52%) are negatively affected by colleagues asking questions or dropping by for a chat.


Noise 
Noise is still considered the number one deterrent to workplace productivity. 38% of UK workers and 35% of U.S. workers listed noise as an issue in 2018. This is a major difference from mainland Europe though, where Germans (54%) and French (48%) rate this issue much higher. The type of noise that annoys office workers most is colleagues talking to each other in their direct vicinity.  


Many employees listen to music at work to focus better. Music creates both a concentration zone and functions as a tool to relax and recharge. Employees use music to lower their stress levels and work more productively. 


Working from Home
Research has shown that, on average, employees are distracted at work every three minutes and that it can take as long as 25 minutes to refocus. Four times more employees in 2018 perceive working from home to be the most productive option for them, compared to 2015. Nearly one in three (28%) UK employees consider working from home to be the most productive – yet, interestingly, the majority (60%) are not allowed to.  According to a 2017 Gallup study, 43% of Americans report spending at least some time working remotely.


Hotdesking
While hot desking, an office organization system which involves multiple workers using a single physical work station or surface during different time periods, was the buzz word in the workplace just a few years ago, it lost popularity in 2018: only 4% of companies now offer this type of office environment.


Open Office Space
What remained the same over the past three years is the fact that the ‘open office’ (30%) is the most widespread office design. This makes it of utmost importance to understand how to make optimal use of open office spaces while limiting the hindering factors, which have been shown to reduce productivity.  A 2017 study by software strategist William Belk found that 58% of high-performance employees (HPEs) say they need more private spaces for problem solving, and 54% of HPEs say their office environment is “too distracting.”


Mobility
The research also shows that the workforce has become more mobile in the past three years. A higher number of people spend more time away from their primary workplace. In the UK, on average almost half a working day (43%) is spent away from the desk at the office.  In today’s digital age, the need for mobile interaction and information exchange is increasingly important.


Meetings
Office workers see lack of preparation (38%), lack of 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 and the UK a 111% increase in such occurrences in 2018 compared to 2015.  The Millennial workforce (18–35 years) find discussions without direction (46%) to be the biggest cause of unproductive meetings.

Some trends are fading away while others continue to increase.  Office mobility is a key trend that is likely to only increase as technology continues to innovate.  Even with open office spaces, collaboration is moving away from face-to-face to online.  It’s important for employers to keep their eyes on the pulse of technology trends and equip their employees with the proper collaboration and productivity tools.
 

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