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Innovation is key to a successful office

publication date: Jul 1, 2010
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Emphasis on workplace productivity is misplaced and firms should focus on innovation according to new research from property and construction consultancy Robinson Low Francis (RLF).

The research, conducted with the College of Estate Management’s Reading University MBA found that cutbacks, redundancies and office closures has led to companies becoming too focused on productivity at the cost of innovation.

The study was based on a detailed analysis of five firms and a questionnaire completed by over 50 architects and interior designers. It concludes that businesses would benefit from focusing on creating innovative working environments to re-motivate their workforces and produce better results. Steve Henigan, Head of Management Consultancy at RLF, said: “Innovation has been sacrificed on the altar of productivity and cost-cutting has left a lot of the workforce in unstimulating office environments. This is counter-intuitive as the cost of a bored, unmotivated office far exceeds any savings from a dreary environment.”

Key research findings of the year-long study include:

Working space – innovation increases as the amount of working space per person decreases. Less space meant closer social interaction.

Collaboration and interaction – innovation levels increased in proportion to the amount of informal space in the office, supporting the view that social interaction is required for innovative creation.

Configuration of workspace – “open plan” gives a clear advantage in promoting innovative creation compared to those that work in “cells”.

Access to daylight – most surprisingly, the research suggested that there is no relationship between the amount of daylight and the innovative qualities of an organisation despite popular views in support of this theory and, practically, the rental differences between the two types of space.

Steve Henigan, said: “There are a lot of misconceived views around exactly what constitutes a stimulating, innovative working environment. Now is the time for business to re-assess working practice and innovate their way out of the current financial climate.”