2013 U.S.

WORKPLACE SURVEY
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Gensler’s 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey represents responses from 2,035 randomly sampled knowledge workers nationwide. The study examines the design factors that create an effective workplace; how design can better support knowledge worker engagement, satisfaction, and performance; and the influence of the workplace on organizational culture. The U.S. workforce is struggling to work effectively, fostering dissatisfaction and stifling creativity and innovation. Our research directly compares today's workplace with the workplace of 2008 and identifies design strategies for how organizations can jump the trend and use better workplace design to drive innovation, improve performance, and increase satisfaction in the context of 2013 working realities.

INTRODUCTION

KEY FINDINGS

Forces from technology to globalization to a new generation of workers are leading fundamental changes to where, how, and when today’s knowledge workers perform their jobs. The confluence of these forces is resulting in new performance drivers for today’s workplace and a series of new and exciting questions about what the workplace is—and more importantly—what it should be. Gensler's 2013 survey represents the most recent iteration of ongoing research on the connection between workplace design and performance. Our last survey took place in 2008, just prior to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression with a U.S. unemployment rate of 5.7%. We stood at the cusp of a technological revolution of communication and information-sharing. Twitter had just launched and Facebook had less than 100 million users. The iPhone hadn’t celebrated its first birthday and the Millennials now entering offices across the U.S. were celebrating their Sweet Sixteens. It goes without saying, the world in 2013 is a different place. Technological innovation has revolutionized how we create, share and communicate. Today's world is connected like never before, but new connections mean new distractions and for many a compromised ability to focus. Globalization and urbanization continue to shift the business landscape. Seventy-five percent of the world's population is expected to live in cities by 2050 and over four-fifths of Americans live in cities today. Urban areas are increasingly understood as drivers of economic growth, culture and innovation, resulting in new demands and constraints on space. Seen in 2013, workplace performance exists not only in conjunction with business success but with the character, form and success of our cities. We increasingly see the workplace not as the sole location for work, but as the vital connection among myriad locations in which work happens. From desks and meeting rooms to co-work spaces, airports and hotels, today's knowledge work happens not just at the scale of people and offices, but at the scale of buildings, cities and ultimately the globe. It is in this context that we continue to explore questions of focus, balance and choice in today's, and tomorrow's, high-performance work environments.
GENSLER'S WORKPLACE RESEARCH TIMELINE

U.S. WORKERS ARE STRUGGLING TO WORK EFFECTIVELY.
A CONFLUENCE OF FACTORS—FROM ECONOMIC CHALLENGES TO LONGER WORKDAYS—ARE COMPROMISING THE ABILITY TO GET WORK DONE.
TWO

ONE

EFFECTIVE WORKPLACES BALANCE FOCUS AND COLLABORATION.
WORKPLACES DESIGNED TO ENABLE COLLABORATION WITHOUT SACRIFICING EMPLOYEES' ABILITY TO FOCUS ARE MORE SUCCESSFUL.

CHOICE DRIVES PERFORMANCE AND INNOVATION.
EMPLOYERS WHO PROVIDE A SPECTRUM OF CHOICES FOR WHEN AND WHERE TO WORK ARE SEEN AS MORE INNOVATIVE AND HAVE HIGHER-PERFORMING EMPLOYEES.

THREE

2005
U.K. Workplace Survey

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012
Workplace Performance Index hits respondents

2013
New U.S. Workplace Survey

U.S. Workplace Workplace U.S. + U.K. Performance Survey Workplace Index developed Survey

WPI growth and refinement: new modules added, 8 languages, 11 industries, trademarked

100,000

2013 U.S. WORKPLACE SURVEY

2

THE FOUR WORK MODES

THE WORKPLACE PERFORMANCE INDEX™
Gensler created the Workplace Performance Index (WPI) to help clients understand specifically what comprises space effectiveness in their workplaces so that design solutions can be highly targeted. The WPI is a web-enabled pre- and post-occupancy evaluation tool that measures the effectiveness of work space. In 2012, Gensler’s WPI database surpassed 100,000 respondents representing some of the most admired companies in the world. The scope of the database allows for ongoing analysis that has illuminated the declining effectiveness of workplaces to support focus work. These analyses led to the key goals of Gensler’s 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey: to better understand the importance of focus in the workplace and how best to support that activity, and to understand how work and the workplace have changed in recent years.

Gensler's 2008 Workplace Survey established four work modes that serve as a lens to understand today's knowledge workplace. By understanding employees' work as time spent focusing, collaborating, learning,and socializing, companies can better support the myriad drivers of success in today's knowledge economy. Companies that value and support all four work modes are higherperforming and have more satisfied, effective employees.

THE FOUR WORK MODES

WORK INVOLVING CONCENTRATION AND ATTENTION TO A PARTICULAR TASK OR PROJECT

FOCUS

WORK INTERACTIONS THAT CREATE COMMON BONDS AND VALUES, COLLECTIVE IDENTITY, COLLEGIALITY, AND PRODUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS

SOCIALIZE

WORKING WITH ANOTHER PERSON OR GROUP TO ACHIEVE A GOAL

COLLABORATE

WORKING TO ACQUIRE NEW KNOWLEDGE OF A SUBJECT OR SKILL THROUGH EDUCATION OR EXPERIENCE
3

LEARN

U.S. WORKERS ARE STRUGGLING TO WORK EFFECTIVELY.
EXTENDED WORK DAYS, NEW DISTRACTIONS AND DOWNWARD PRESSURE ON REAL ESTATE COSTS ARE COMPROMISING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE U.S. WORKPLACE. STRATEGIES IN PURSUIT OF COLLABORATION – OPEN WORKPLACES, LOW- OR NO-PANEL DESKS – PROVED INEFFECTIVE IF THE ABILITY TO FOCUS WAS NOT ALSO CONSIDERED. WHEN FOCUS IS COMPROMISED IN PURSUIT OF COLLABORATION, NEITHER WORKS WELL.

KEY FINDING ONE

Overall workplace performance has dropped 6% as measured by aggregate WPI scores for Gensler's 2008 and 2013 survey respondents. The overall decrease in the effectiveness of focus work as ranked by employees drove this decline. Survey results show focus as a key effectiveness driver— those who can focus are more satisfied, higher performing, and see their companies as more innovative (Figure 1).

Interestingly, this pairs with a shift in how employees report spending their time: Despite many workplaces designed expressly to support collaboration, time spent collaborating has decreased by 20%, while time spent focusing has increased by 13% (Figure 2). This may be attributed to longer work days overall. Declining focus effectiveness may also result in longer hours required to complete tasks.

Figure 1

100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%

Employees Who Can Focus are More Effective, HigherPerforming Overall
Percentage improvement between respondents who report high focus effectiveness and those who report low effectiveness.

+88% +57%

+42%

+31% +14%

+31%

COLLABORATION LEARNING EFFECTIVENESS EFFECTIVENESS

SOCIALIZING EFFECTIVENESS

JOB SATISFACTION

JOB PERFORMANCE

MORE INNOVATIVE

Figure 2

Knowledge Workers are Focusing More, Collaborating Less
Represents percentage of average work week. Time not accounted for in these percentages was listed as "other."

54% 48%

30% 24%

6% FOCUS COLLABORATE

5%

6%

8%

2008 2013

LEARN

SOCIALIZE
4

KEY FINDING TWO

EFFECTIVE WORKPLACES BALANCE FOCUS AND COLLABORATION.

WHILE INDIVIDUAL FOCUS AND COLLABORATIVE WORK ARE OFTEN THOUGHT TO BE OPPOSITES, OUR RESEARCH DEMONSTRATES THAT THEY FUNCTION BEST AS COMPLEMENTS. ULTIMATELY, WORKPLACES DESIGNED TO ENABLE COLLABORATION WITHOUT SACRIFICING EMPLOYEES' ABILITY TO FOCUS ARE MORE SUCCESSFUL.

In all, 24% of respondents report that their workplaces communicate that their companies value both individual and collaborative work, referred to below as "balanced workplaces." These employees indicate that their spaces are 21% more effective for focus and 20% more effective for collaboration than those in workplaces that do not effectively support both focus and collaborative work.

These respondents also see their companies as 29% more innovative and are 36% more satisfied with their jobs. They are 34% more satisfied with their workplace environments, and their workplaces are 23% more effective overall as measured by Gensler’s WPI (Figure 3). These respondents are also more likely to rank their companies highly on a number of individual factors critical to creativity and innovation (Figure 4).

Figure 3

Effectively Balancing Focus and Collaboration Improves Performance
Percentage improvement between balanced and unbalanced workplaces.

40%

+36% +29%
20%

+34% +23%

+21%

+20%

0%

FOCUS COLLABORATION EFFECTIVENESS EFFECTIVENESS

MORE INNOVATIVE

JOB SATISFACTION

OVERALL ENVIRONMENT

WPI SCORE

Figure 4

Balanced Workplaces Are More Creative, More Innovative
Percentage of employees who rank their company highly.

72% 52% 40%

78%

74%

73%

74%

46%

45%

40%

Not Balanced Balanced

CREATES CLIMATE OF INNOVATION

HAS CREATIVE THINKERS

LEADERSHIP ENCOURAGES INNOVATION

ENCOURAGES BREAKTHROUGH IDEAS

HAS CLEAR STRATEGY FOR INNOVATION 5

CHOICE DRIVES PERFORMANCE AND INNOVATION.
ENABLING CHOICE WITH THE RIGHT ALIGNMENT OF TOOLS, POLICIES, AND SPACES IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR COMPANIES TO CREATE A CLIMATE IN WHICH AUTONOMOUS, ENGAGED EMPLOYEES CAN MAKE MEANINGFUL DECISIONS TO MAXIMIZE THEIR INDIVIDUAL JOB PERFORMANCE. EMPLOYERS WHO PROVIDE A SPECTRUM OF CHOICES FOR WHEN AND WHERE TO WORK ARE SEEN AS MORE INNOVATIVE AND HAVE HIGHER-PERFORMING EMPLOYEES.

KEY FINDING THREE

Employers who offer choice in when and where to work have workers who are 12% more satisfied with their jobs and report higher effectiveness scores across all four work modes (Figure 5). Their employees are more likely to see their workplaces as balanced, more likely to rank their companies as innovative, and more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, and are higher-performing (Figure 6).

Employees without choice report organizational policy as the primary limit to their workplace autonomy and are also less likely to have tools that support mobility and "anywhere" working. Employees with choice are more likely to make decisions based on a need to connect to people and resources. Increasing choice doesn’t mean everyone is working from home—respondents with choice still spend the vast majority (70%) of their time in office settings.

Figure 5

Employees With Choice are More Effective
As ranked on a 10-point scale where 10="most effective."

8.0 7.5 7.0 6.5 6.0

+7% +4% +3% +5%

Employees Without Choice Employees With Choice

FOCUS Effectiveness

COLLABORATION Effectiveness

LEARNING Effectiveness

SOCIALIZING Effectiveness

Figure 6

Choice Improves the Employee Experience
Percentage more likely to rank workplace highly for those with choice vs. those without choice

30%

+25%
20%

+20% +15%

10%

+7%
0% INNOVATION JOB PERFORMANCE JOB SATISFACTION WORKPLACE SATISFACTION 6

THE OPPORTUNITY Our research points to a number of spatial and strategic actions companies can take to design workplaces that improve the employee experience, enhance performance, and drive innovation and success.

STEP 1

PROVIDE EFFECTIVE FOCUS SPACE

STEP 2

COLLABORATE WITHOUT SACRIFICING FOCUS

STEP 3

DRIVE INNOVATION THROUGH CHOICE

The effectiveness of focus space strongly correlates to myriad workplace performance factors, driving variables from collaboration effectiveness to satisfaction and overall workplace performance. Effective workplaces must first and foremost provide locations for employees to get heads-down focus work done. These design solutions may vary based on company culture, work processes, and individual work styles. What must remain constant is a commitment to the importance of and providing spaces for focus work.

Balanced workplaces drive performance, both organizational and individual. Across industries, we found that workplaces prioritizing both focus and collaboration— not one at the expense of the other—score higher on measures of satisfaction, innovation, effectiveness, and performance than offices that prioritized one work mode over another. A workplace with the optimal mix of settings that support focus work and collaborative work alongside learning and socializing will better empower employees to thrive in the office.

Employees with choice in when and where to work rank their own performances higher, are more satisfied with their workplaces, and can focus more effectively. Providing employees with the tools that allow for choice—mobile technology, wireless throughout the office, and access to files/networks from outside the office—is the first step. Companies must then ensure that employees are not only able, but empowered to choose the optimal settings for when and where to work and provide a range of spaces that allow employees to leverage choice for optimal productivity.

7

RESEARCH FOUNDATION DESIGN + BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
Gensler's 2013 survey represents the most recent iteration of ongoing research on the workplace, which began in 2005 with Gensler’s first workplace survey. A survey in 2006 established the connections between workplace design, employee productivity, and business competitiveness. In 2008, our research established a framework for understanding knowledge work through the lens of the four "work modes:" focus, collaboration, learning, and socializing (see next page). The effectiveness and support of all four work modes connect to employee satisfaction and company performance. Gensler's 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey continues this thread to take the pulse of the American workplace as it relates to employee effectiveness, business performance, and opportunities to create and advance a culture of innovation. Parallel questions allow for direct comparison with data collected through Gensler's 2008 survey. This puts our findings in the context of fundamental work and life shifts over that time period and points to solutions for how to realign today's workplace with today's world.

METHODOLOGY

This survey represents data collected via an online survey conducted among a random sample of 2,035 respondents representing a broad cross section of demographics, including education, age, gender, and location. Respondents include knowledge workers who work in an office some or all of the time within ten industry segments. Gensler retained The Futures Company to conduct the survey; Precision Consulting conducted statistical analysis. Survey questions include those from Gensler’s Workplace Performance Index™ (WPI), which specifically measures the effectiveness, criticality, and time spent in the workplace across four modes of work: focus, collaboration, learning, and socializing. The WPI also benchmarks the performance of the physical work environment through an evaluation of 28 design factors. In addition to these core questions, which allow for comparisons across Gensler’s WPI dataset beginning in 2007, the 2013 survey asks respondents to rank their work spaces and companies across a variety of experiential and performance factors including innovation, motivation, choice, and technology, as well as individual patterns of behavior and preferences.

OFFICE TIME*
0-49%
15%

EDUCATION
Graduate Degree
37%

GENDER
Female
51.5%

AGE
55+
23%

50-74%
14%

College Degree
43%

18–34
26%

100%
35%

75-99%
36%

High School or less
4%

Some College
16%

Male
48.5%

45–54
27%

35–44
24%

* Percentage of time spent in office during an average work week

www.gensler.com

Survey data represents 2,035 respondents with statistically significant samples from ten industry sectors including banking/financial/insurance, consumer products/retail/manufacturing, legal, media/ entertainment/creative services, consulting/accounting/business services, bio-tech/pharmaceuticals, government, not-for-profit/associations, energy, and technology/internet/telecommunications.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful