Jones Lang LaSalle South Africa study highlights the workplace as a human experience

Posted On Tuesday, 25 July 2017 20:00 Published by
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Investing and harnessing the best out of a company’s human capital is an important thing for every business. 


But how does one measure or improve the level of productivity, happiness and commitment of employees to the organisation, and are companies approaching this with the right ideas and tools? 

Human experience is an impression an organisation leaves on its people, beyond the physical environment, which results in greater engagement, professional empowerment and a sense of fulfilment. In real estate, it is a key differentiator for how end users interact with an organisation. It is about getting the best out of the company workforce and building a business culture and a brand by how employees feel about where they work.

JLL carried out a unique global research project: to understand the workplace experience and its specific impact on business performance and decipher how experiences can be shaped by real estate to achieve strategic performance objectives. Whilst the report is a global one across 16 countries and three regions, it is interesting to note the South African results to decode the workplace experience from a local perspective.  305 interviews were conducted with fair representation across gender, age and experience in the company.

Falling amongst some of the developing economies in the global survey, South Africa did lag in some of the global trends.  For example, workplace densities are relatively low in South Africa compared to global benchmarks, with open plan office areas being shared amongst an average of 29 people in the country, compared to an average of 45 in the global average.  Although this may be positive for concentration, it limits opportunities for internal networking and collaboration with alternative departments. In addition, mobility at work is fairly low in South Africa with employees spending over two-thirds of the working day at the desk as opposed to utilising pause areas and alternative work spaces which can enhance productivity, creativity and collaboration. 

Nevertheless, employee attitudes are positive in the country and South Africa reported higher levels of workplace engagement (48% of employees) than in the global average (40%).  Be that as it may, it shows that there is much room for improvement with more than half of employees feeling that they are not completely engaged in the office, which contributes to lower levels of productivity and organisational commitment.

Tom Mundy, Head of Research at JLL SSA says that the research project has pinpointed three experience priorities for corporate occupiers: engagement, empowerment and fulfilment. Considerations include everything from the impact of innovative spaces and alternative working options to corporate culture and management practice. Mundy says, “South African employers should invest in creating positive workplace experiences that help workers be the best they can be.  Workplace professionals will be central to this shift towards people-centred and experience-led design.”

He comments, “From a corporate real estate perspective, the research findings create a clear argument for open plan environments which also offer a variety of supplementary spaces and amenities to support several types of work, lifestyle needs and positive corporate cultures. This is very different to the typical office we see in South Africa today.”

Mundy concludes that while there is a clear case for workplace transformation, it is important to recognise that about a third of the South African workforce is very reluctant to switch to new ways of working. Success will rely heavily on a carefully considered change management programme.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 20:15

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