The Elemental Workplace, Autonomy and a Wig - Workplace Trends

Created on 13/03/18 10:47 by Tracey May

Workplace Trends Research

By Mark Randall, Managing Director

On Thursday 8th March I attended the Workplace Trends Research Spring Summit held at The Rooms on Regents Park. An appropriate venue for such a vast amount of research to be discussed.


The day was crammed with data and debate as well as the opportunity to catch up with colleagues who have been busy doing what they do.


The findings of research distilled into facts and statistics can be as dry as a water biscuit but our speakers largely presented with dynamism and precision, clearly mining some excellent and contemporary data.


Wouter Oosting from CBRE Workplace was first up with research relating to the impact of working environment on performance. Wouter spoke of the importance of diet in relation to performance - an area of great focus at the moment for both Public and Private sectors, outlining the dangerous similarities between sugar and cocaine. He also discussed the demand for Choice of ‘how’ and ‘where’ we work becoming a key determinant of who we work for in the future. The CBRE research can be found at here.

Wouter Oosting CBRE Workplace Trends


Choice and Autonomy were key themes in many of the day's presentations and I was reminded of Dan Pinks excellent book 'Drive', which outlines why we are motivated to work.


Nicola Gillen and Charlotte Hermans from Aecom presented the latest research in relation to key predictors of wellbeing and performance of office workers. I found this presentation both insightful and refreshing. Conclusions from the research include predicting an increasingly important need for quality Managerial capability, with Line Management potentially becoming a profession in itself. The increasing importance of Change Management was highlighted, as was the need to allow for the diversity of personality in design. I look forward to seeing the full report.

Nicola Gillen and Charlotte Hermans Aecom at Workplace Trends


At lunch we were provided with the opportunity to chat with Neil Usher who has recently launched an excellent book called The Elemental Workplace - the ‘12 Elements’ for creating a fantastic workplace for everyone.

The Elemental Workplace Neil Usher


I've known Neil for around 25 years, having worked with him on various occasions, from his days at Polygram Records to being involved with his award-winning work at Sky.

Thus, I knew that his book would be based on personal experience rather than a fusion of other people's ideas cut and shut together under an author's name. Neil's prose style is witty and conversational and his '12 Elements', along with scoring matrix, should be read by all involved with Workplace. Articulate Doers always provide the best insights.


Speaking of which, Tim Oldman, Co-Founder of Leesman called upon his latest tranche of statistical data to provide some great insights.  Tim referenced the fact that 'Newness' is no guarantee of workplace satisfaction or performance. Leesman have produced the startling statistic that just 34% of new workplaces deliver employee experience that position the workplace as an asset in organisational performance.

Tim Oldman Leesman Workplace research and data


Another key insight was that Noise is the strongest indicator of dissatisfaction in the workplace. Not new but now reinforced with a weighty volume of data. We look forward to the next release of data from the Leesman Index relating to the characteristics of the World’s best workplaces. Interestingly 22 of the 24 High Performance Workplaces in the Leesman study are Open Plan.


So, my big 'take away' from another excellent Workplace Trends was the volume and richness of research and observation available to us - including the BCO report 'Defining and Measuring Productivity in Offices', which we can use to address the 34% stat and provide everyone with an Elemental Workplace.

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