How City firms can improve on office strategy

Eighty per cent of financial services workers say they feel a great deal of stress from their work
Most legal and financial workers think their wellbeing is ignored
Much of the time, it’s the little things that matter the most – and this is particularly true in the workplace. We recently surveyed 2,443 UK service sector workers and found that many employees would benefit from small and simple changes in the strategy and design of their office space.
The places we work in have already changed radically. Many employers, for example, are moving away from the intense row after row approach, installing circular desk spaces and comfortable break-out areas. Within the tech and telecoms industries, it is now commonplace to find offices with restaurants with healthy menus, coffee shops, gyms, swimming pools, faith rooms – even beauty and hair salons. These are not fads, but instead represent workplaces being redesigned to incorporate wellness and wellbeing.

A FURTHER WELLBEING PUSH

This is something that other sectors can no longer ignore. We found that only 55 per cent of legal workers and 47 per cent of those in financial services felt that their organisations really cared about their wellbeing – figures that were lower than in any other sector.
One of the simplest changes that a company can make is to introduce “floor runners” into its workplace management. These are members of the facilities management team – not desk workers or necessarily specially-hired employees – who are dedicated to helping to boost employee wellbeing. Floor runners move around the workplace and know staff on a first name basis, acting as a friendly first port of call for any workplace issue – from a clunky drawer to an individual IT meltdown.

FEWER INTERRUPTIONS

Productivity is intrinsically linked to workplace design and management. The UK service sector excels because of its skilled and intelligent workforce. But individuals are often hampered by inadequate provision. We found that only just over half of service sector workers feel that their workplace optimises productivity. Clearly, this is not good enough.
The easiest way to confront the issue is to reduce interruptions. If workers are in open-plan environments, which are often noisy and disruptive, employers can drastically mitigate this by introducing “quiet spaces” – designated spots where workers know they can get their head down and get on.

CONSULT ON STRESS

We also found the need for senior management to involve employees in decisions about their environment. Again, this is an issue most pertinent to the finance and legal sectors. Our survey found that 80 per cent of finance workers feel a great deal of stress from their work, as do 65 per cent of those in the legal profession.
Management cannot afford for their staff to have their stress heightened as a result of an ill-fitting workplace strategy. Empowering employees to make decisions about their workplace is a crucial first step.
Martyn Freeman is managing director of facilities management at Mitie.

A restaurant meal to your door

Free
Founded by ex-investment banker Will Shu, Deliveroo launched its app last week. The service brings high-quality local restaurant meals to your door – and now in a few taps.
It partners with more than 1,000 leading local independent and chain restaurants across the country, including names like Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Meatliquor and Carluccio’s. Food is delivered within 32 minutes of your order being placed.
Deliveroo is now operating in 18 British cities.