How to drive cultural change and improve performance in the work environment

Workplace strategy and design specialist Nicola Gillen looks at how strengthening the relationship between people and place through workplace transformation can influence employee and organisational performance.

The workplace is no longer just a place where we go to ‘work’. To attract and retain the best talent, today’s workplaces need to inspire, support wellbeing and encourage collaboration and creativity. So how do you create workplaces that achieve all these things while also driving employee performance and achieving return on investment?

Following a recent acquisition, we rationalised our real estate portfolio by consolidating our two London offices into a single workplace over five floors in Aldgate Tower, East London. The move brought about the opportunity to drive cultural and behaviour change across the business: our vision was to encourage innovation, collaboration, wellbeing and ultimately employee engagement.

To do this, we brought together an in-house multi-disciplinary project team from workplace strategists and interior designers through to IT, human resources and organisational development, developing and then implementing a number of key workplace strategy and design initiatives including agile working, technological transformation and comprehensive change management processes, all designed to optimise the user experience during and post transformation.

To measure success, we partnered with pro­fessional services firm AON. We created a bespoke method of assessing performance, building on existing world-leading psychometric tests assessing performance, pre and post occupancy, by measuring concentration, logical reasoning, multi-tasking, and creativity. The holistic post occupancy evaluation (POE) results demonstrated significant improvement in the following categories:

  1. Collaboration – which included a threefold increase in the value of cross-discipline client proposals.
  2. Performance – the new heavily-occupied open plan agile environment sparked a 10 per cent increase in creativity while not impeding people’s ability to concentrate, multi-task or think logically.
  3. Wellbeing – improvements were evidenced by a 26 per cent increase in retention and a maintained level of wellbeing post transformation.

Ultimately, the project outcomes demonstrate it is possible to influence employee and organisational performance through defining and strengthening the relationship between people and place in the workplace.

Click here to read a detailed account of the project, published in the Corporate Real Estate Journal, Volume 8 / Number 2 / Winter 2018–19, pp. 118-135(18). Published by Henry Stewart Publications in London, UK.

Authors: Nicola Gillen, AECOM; Hilary Jeffery, AECOM; Charlotte Hermans, AECOM; Ramona Verhees, AECOM, Malcolm Louth, AECOM; David Barrett, Cut-E and Robin Bott, Cut-E.