Workplace design can help mitigate clock change impact

The success of any business is often reliant on its ability to successfully attract and retain the right type of employees. However, appointing suitable colleagues just isn’t enough as organisations also need to provide an environment that allows staff to be as productive as possible and to thrive.

However, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in June, the UK’s productivity levels lagged behind those of our European neighbours as commentators continue to discuss the ‘productivity puzzle.’ A recent survey commissioned by our parent company Extentia Group highlighted an interesting idea.

In “Overcoming the UK’s Productivity Challenge”, workers were questioned about British Summer Time (BST) to understand if the seasonal clock change can have an effect on people’s productivity at work. It found more than half of those surveyed said it affected their performance at work. On average, respondents felt the effect of the change to and from BST for four days following the change, but more than 10% of women felt affected for more than two weeks!

This view has been echoed by the EU Commission that stated "the effect [of BST] on the human biorhythm may be more severe than previously thought” and earlier this year, backed a proposal to stop the obligatory one-hour clock change which extends daylight hours in summer EU-wide. However, this is just the first step of many in the process towards making this legislation and it is also unclear how Brexit will affect the UK’s position.

At SpaceInvader we know that employee engagement in the design phase is key to ensuring that workplaces are designed and adapted to cater for the preferences of the workforce. Other factors such as BST should be taken into account and businesses could assess the potential benefits of a flexible approach to starting and finishing times. In order to facilitate this there are a number of key considerations.

Firstly, employee safety is paramount, especially those working in partially occupied buildings at either end of the day, through choice or necessity. Employers may benefit from “locking down” remote floors to concentrate employees into key suitable co-working areas, whilst also investing in building surveillance and security, especially during the darker months and around the clock changes.

Larger businesses may also consider creating small-scale neighbourhoods so people don’t feel exposed or isolated in a vast open-plan office with few others around, whilst some of these innovative spaces could also be designated quiet zones for those requiring maximum concentration. Employers could also creatively use building engineering services to respond to 24/7 cycles - an example of this could be using lighting to reflect circadian rhythms – and this could be altered to compensate during BST.

At SpaceInvader we work closely with organisations to deliver strong design that can transform workspaces into inspiring and motivational places for their staff, driving wellbeing and productivity.

To download “Morning Larks vs Night Owls: Overcoming the UK’s Productivity Challenge”, click HERE