So, how do you create a high-performing catalyst workplace? Despite the predictions that the office of the future will be a place where one goes only to meet with other people, our data highlights the importance of accommodating the individual and focused work that your employees do. Because if employees cannot concentrate in the workplace, then where are they expected to go and do their individual, focused work? It is not unlikely that some will retreat to the sanctuary of home. When designing for concentration, it is important to understand the different types of focused work that the employees do, because not all focused work is the same. Sometimes we “snorkel” with our head down, and then a brief interruption doesn’t matter; we raise our head for a moment and can then put our head down and easily continue from where we left off. But some of our work requires deep-diving. If we get interrupted, we have to ascend all the way to the surface, losing the flow we had achieved. And diving back down to continue what we were doing will take time, and we might not find our way back to the place we just were. What is key is that our Leesman+ catalyst workplaces can support both.
So, going back to the ability of a workplace to support individual and/or collaborative activities, a workplace that supports neither is clearly an obstructor workplace. Workplaces that support individual activities but do not create opportunity to collaborate are enablers. And for a workplace to be a catalyst, it needs to successfully support both individual and collaborative work. But what may come as a surprise is that the workplaces where all the focus has been put on creating room for collaboration, while neglecting the need of the individuals to do concentrative tasks, will still fall into the obstructor workplace category. This is where the Leesman+ high performance workplaces beat the rest; they successfully support collaboration and interactions without jeopardising individual work. In these buildings, 82% of the employees said that ‘informal, un-planned meetings’ are supported (compared to 63% across entire database), and 80% said that ‘collaborating on creative work’ is supported (64% across entire database), while ‘collaborating on focused work’ is perceived to be supported by 87% (compared to 73% across the global database). But, most importantly, these “we” activities sit alongside the “me” activities. ‘Thinking/creative thinking’ is perceived to be supported by 71% of employees (compared to 51% across the global database), while 87% said that ‘individual focused work, desk-based’ is supported (compared to 77%) and 76% found that ‘reading’ is supported (compared to 59%). How do they do this? The biggest satisfaction score differences perhaps give us some clues as to where they excel: 63% satisfaction with ‘variety of different types of workplace’ (31% across the database), 70% satisfaction with ‘informal work areas/break-out zones’ (37% across the database) and 49% satisfaction with ‘quiet rooms for working alone or in pairs’ (28% across the database).