Overcoming the UK’s Productivity Challenge

Date: 8 July 2019
Written by: Extentia Group

Productivity is the single biggest economic challenge facing Britain today. We lag behind many of our global competitors by double digits. Britain urgently needs to up its game.

A major factor affecting productivity is our built environments – where we live, work and learn makes a big difference to how effective we are. Environments that don’t work well are hindering productivity across all sectors.

Statistics from both the Office for National Statistics and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, who collate and publish a global productivity analysis, show that the UK’s productivity is well behind those of our European neighbours. Why is that and what can we do about it?

Researching the issue

Much has been written about how we, as a country, can do more to overcome the reduction in national productivity and the different approaches we should take. As a group of specialists across the lifecycle of the built environment, we at Extentia Group wanted to understand the impact that the workplace environment can have on productivity.

Working with independent research agency Censuswide, we asked over 1,100 UK indoor workers about their working habits, including when they felt most productive and if their working environments ensured they could be as productive as possible.

The research found that whilst over half of those surveyed (53%) felt they were more productive in the morning, a quarter of them don’t go into work early. Of the 76% that do try and capitalise on this early morning productivity, nearly 60% are put off by inhospitable working environments.

Many industries are also in the midst of a growing skills shortage and attracting and retaining talent is a core part of the business strategy. Research by the University of Victoria, Canada shows that the workplace environment has a direct impact on employee wellbeing and absenteeism, the cost of which is expected to reach £21bn in 2020.

Evidence proves that better environments drive better productivity, so why are we still subscribing to outdated approaches to workplace design? And what should businesses be doing to help maximise the productivity of their workforce?

This report focuses on two distinct groups  - Morning Larks (those who are more productive in the morning) and Night Owls (those who are more productive in the afternoon / evening). It will explore when these groups are most productive, how they prefer to work, and how we can adapt our workplace environments to maximise productivity.

Let's create something remarkable.