Duncan2 blog

“A new approach to workplace thinking is needed,” says Duncan Mitchell

22 October 2019, by Duncan Mitchell


I read an article on Workplace Insight recently with interest as it raised the issue that many workplace change projects are not delivering the outcomes businesses and empolyees are expecting. Now, this isn’t news to us, but it is great to see the research to back-up our thinking.

The article is based on extensive research undertaken over nine years by reputed workplace analysists, Leesman and involving over 80,000 employee responses. Their key findings were that many new workplaces are not meeting the needs of the users:

  • Over 30% of respondents do not agree that their new workplace allows them to be more productive.
  • Workplaces fail to provide places for private conversations and deal with distracting noise levels.

 The final comment by Lessman’s CEO, Tim Oldman is very telling. “The results are indicative of a workplace industry that is all too ready to jump on the latest industry trends without a proper understanding of what employees do and need in their workplaces.”

My view is that often the design of new workplaces is driven by Property teams focusing on what they understand – space per square metre and cost. However these projects should be driven by People and Culture teams focusing on employee experience and team productivity.  

I see management teams of many organisations being “sold” simplistic workplace solutions that focus on saving property costs and delivering design images that “wow”. The truth about our workplaces is that they are complex places and to create successful workplace change projects requires a deep understanding of how the various teams work and the behaviours and culture of the organisation.

We are increasingly navigating these projects by working with Senior Management, the People and Culture teams and the Property teams. All have valuable insights that need to be infused into a cohesive and often complex solution to achieve the best outcome for the business and employees.




About the author

Lives on Asian food. Listens to music that sounds like a washing machine. Once played the clarinet! Dreams of lazy days sailing. Rides a mean mountain bike. Predicts the weather. Avoids crowds and dancing.

Duncan leads our Strategy practice area which includes our property strategy, workplace strategy, strategic briefing, technology and master planning areas and has been the driving force behind the growth of this practice area. Duncan remains focused on how the workplace (physical environment, technology, people and process) can best support organisational performance.

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