Great employee workplace experience is fast being acknowledged as the foundation to heightened employee engagement. An elite group of employers have recognised this and are using workplace as a tactical tool in competitive advantage. This March, Leesman hosted an event to learn how the best are beating the rest. Jo Sutherland reports from Leesman’s London conference
Leesman, which has surveyed over 2,000 workspaces worldwide since forming at the turn of the decade, aims to empower facilities and real estate managers with the data required to make every workplace better. To date, just six per cent of buildings surveyed have achieved the prestigious Leesman+ accreditation. This award, based on exemplary functionality and effectiveness scores, recognises and praises high performing workplaces.
Out of the 813 workplaces surveyed in 2017, 24 have been awarded the Leesman+ certification across 21 organisations, and the achievements of these businesses and their physical workplaces are being celebrated in a new report called ‘The World’s Best Workplaces 2017’. In addition, the Leesman team is embarking on a worldwide event programme to share the insight and to address the overarching question: can the workplace industry ever embrace evidence-based design systems to design and manage high-performing workplaces?
To frame the thinking underpinning the discourse concerning evidence-based design, Leesman’s CEO Tim Oldman kicked off the conference by explaining how technology is transforming the way industries outside of the property sphere are transforming their offerings.
“Eight years ago, billionaire industrial designer Sir James Dyson supported the £6.1m redesign of the neonatal ward at the UK’s Royal United Hospital in Bath,” said Oldman. “As part of the work, wireless accelerometers were attached to babies’ nappies, allowing doctors to accurately measure sleeping and waking cycles – the first time this had been done.
“Through this, the ward managed to collate vast amounts of data using new techniques to build up a really accurate picture of how babies respond to their environment. Analysis revealed that regulating natural and artificial light levels, coupled with reducing noise levels, increased infants’ sleep by 22 per cent, which enabled faster recovery.
“But the benefits weren’t limited to the infants. The homely lay-out of the space, in addition to the tech that monitored infants’ progression, reduced parents’ anxiety levels, which contributed to a dramatic increase in the time mothers spent breastfeeding.”
Oldman then offered other examples of how technology and data have worked hand-in-hand to generate positive user outcomes. In cars, wireless accelerometers trigger airbags to inflate if a sudden change in speed is detected. Data loss can be avoided thanks to laptop accelerometers that detect drops before they hit the ground, protecting the heads of hard disks before impact. iPhone accelerometers sense when a phone is tilting so it can automatically switch screen layouts. Some high-tech washing machines even use accelerometers to detect when the load is out of balance, safeguarding the appliance.
But when it comes to workplace design, research reveals that the majority of organisations are not utilising a similarly sophisticated or tech-led approach, resulting in high numbers of offices that are not fit for purpose, let alone effective.
Leesman classes each workplace in the databank into one of three different categories based on their Lmi (workplace effectiveness) score. The average Lmi as of January 2018 is 61.7. Leesman considers anything below the average to be an “obstructer” workplace; a space that presents various obstacles that in turn impede or interfere with the work being undertaken, hindering both productivity and engagement. An “enabler” workplace (61.2 – 69.9) is a space that, to all intents and purposes, supports the employees in what they’re doing. But these workplaces don’t enable organisations to shape a better way of working; they present a short to mid-term solution, as it were. Buildings that score an Lmi of 70 or above are classified as “catalyst” spaces; workplaces that encourage people to be the best that they can be.
This is what the organisations as part of the elite Leesman+ collective have managed to achieve. As a business intelligence tool that measures employee experience, Leesman is encouraging the industry to follow in the footsteps of the world’s best workplaces, as these organisations have embraced data and feedback loops to gain competitive advantage. To further explore the data that offers clues as to what these high-performing workplaces have in common, download The World’s Best Workplaces 2017 report here.