Stratergy+_National Grid_Warwick_008Employee productivity can be linked to workplace design, finds new research from infrastructure developer AECOM and National Grid.

The study, which involved transforming the National Grid headquarters to meet a number of financial, brand and wellbeing objectives, shows that re-designing a workplace to include improvements such as comfort and access to meeting spaces has a direct impact on staff performance and satisfaction, resulting in benefits to the bottom line.

Hilary Jeffery, workplace strategy director at AECOM, said:

“This study has allowed us to make significant strides in measuring the impact of the workplace on employee output, something that our industry to date has only been able to gain through subjective measures in employee surveys.

“By taking a more strategic view of an organisation’s real estate and the workplace environment, employers can significantly increase the value gained from their biggest cost: their people.”

National Grid’s brief for the re-design included flexibility in terms of space but at a reduced cost with lower energy and carbon usage. The space needed to allow employees to work more efficiently but also prioritise their wellbeing.

The figures from the study could be translated as having a total financial impact of up to £30 million per annum, comprising an £8-10 million reduction in annual operating costs and potentially £20 million gained through employees’ improved performance levels.

Staff performance increased by eight percent, measured through three cognitive performance tests analysing attributes that are vital to National Grid, such as creativity and lateral thinking. National Grid believes that the impact of 3,000 people in their Warwick-based headquarters working eight percent more effectively equates to £20 million of increased productivity.

Stratergy+_National Grid_Warwick_026Jeffrey added:

“These insights are highly applicable to other companies and sectors, helping organisations drive greater performance and, at the same time, improving staff retention and recruitment. Real estate is the second highest cost for a business, yet all too often it gets little attention at board level.”

Employees have also gained back 5 percent in productive time due to improved access to meeting spaces. There has been an additional 5 percent increase in employees’ collaborative activity and cross-team working, equating to two hours more collaborative activity per week per person. Staff comfort and satisfaction levels with the redesigned office environment are eight percent higher than before.

Other benefits include a 250 percent increase in support space, office capacity boosted by 27 percent and desk utilisation improved by 15 percent. Energy usage has decreased by 16 percent, netting National Grid’s headquarters a gold SKA rating – an environmental assessment measurement for office fit outs – as a result of the redesign.

The results were measured in a work performance survey of over 300 staff, focus groups, interviews, observational studies and cognitive performance tests.

Simon Carter, head of corporate property at National Grid, said:

“We’ve proved that providing an inspiring work environment is not just a ‘nice to have’, it is fundamental to our culture at National Grid. Our study has objectively proven that giving our colleagues spaces to collaborate and work together has enhanced productivity by eight percent and enabled teams to flex the way they work, making it easier to act as a team.”





Steff joined the HRreview editorial team in November 2014. A former event coordinator and manager, Steff has spent several years working in online journalism. She is a graduate of Middlessex University with a BA in Television Production and will complete a Master's degree in Journalism from the University of Westminster in the summer of 2015.