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Productivity drivers of knowledge workers in the central London office environment

Ana Chadburn (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK)
Judy Smith (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK)
Joshua Milan (Kingston Business School, Kingston University, Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the drivers that allow for enhanced personal productivity of knowledge-based workers in Central London focusing on the physical and social environment as well as worker’s individual preferences.

Design/methodology/approach

A closed-ended questionnaire was sent to employees of eight professional companies (Consultancy, Financial and Media Services) based in Central London. Of the 500 questionnaires sent, 213 were successfully completed and returned, representing a response rate of 42.6 per cent.

Findings

The findings from this trial study show that comfort, convenience, IT connectivity, good design and working to a specific time scale were strong drivers of personal productivity. Knowledge workers prefer a flexible range of office settings that enable both a stimulating open and connected work environment, knowledge sharing, collaboration, as well as quiet concentration locations, free of distractions and noise. It was also found that moves of knowledge workers into open-plan office space (and especially fee earners) is normally met with initial resistance. However, there is normally greater acceptance of open space after experiencing an actual move into open-plan, with benefits improving teamwork and communication being highlighted. The research also stresses that office design considerations need to be closer aligned with knowledge worker’s overall well-being and individual psychological needs.

Research limitations/implications

Limited to Central London offices and self-assessed evaluation of productivity drivers within the knowledge worker’s office environment.

Practical implications

Corporate real estate managers and office occupiers, designers and facilities managers can use the findings as part of their workplace strategy by providing a range of flexible workplaces that allow the knowledge worker a place for greater personal productivity through the provision of a well-designed collaborative office environment alongside private and quiet working spaces. Developers and landlords should also be aware of these requirements when taking their decisions.

Originality/value

This paper focuses specifically on the high-productivity knowledge-based work environment, demonstrating that there is a need to consider the collaborative physical and social environment and the individual preferences of knowledge workers to ensure enhanced personal productivity and well-being within the office. This can be achieved through the provision of a well-designed office space that allows for open, connected and comfortable work environments, as well as opportunities to use dedicated concentration spaces that are free of distraction. It was also shown that hot-desking was unanimously disliked by knowledge workers.

Keywords

Citation

Chadburn, A., Smith, J. and Milan, J. (2017), "Productivity drivers of knowledge workers in the central London office environment", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 66-79. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRE-12-2015-0047

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited