BCO judge and Bruntwood property director Peter Crowther explains the importance of a stimulating office environment and a happy workforce.
Every business is unique in its own respect. Each company has a culture that will thrive given the right environment - one that encourages learning, stimulates productivity and utilises the workspace provided.
Peter Crowther, property director at Bruntwood who also sits on the northern board of the British Council for Offices (BCO) acting as a judge in the national awards, believes that people work better in an environment where they feel comfortable.
“This doesn’t mean providing comfort in the sense of having a space to sit down, chill out and relax, but rather providing staff with a feeling of comfort to do the job they’re employed to do - however that may be,” Peter explained.
“In recent years, the wellness and wellbeing of staff has increasingly risen to the fore and businesses across the country are shifting towards a variety of work environments.
“A number of offices are beginning to reflect domestic comforts - like breakout areas and kitchen space. But the key to this is connectivity - as long as you’re able to grab a laptop and work or collaborate, domestic comforts are only going to enhance this, depending on the task you’re carrying out.”
According to Queens University, roughly 75 per cent of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as ‘very important’, and Peter believes that a less-pressurised and more collaborative approach is beginning to emerge in the office.
It’s widely recognised that happy people are productive. In more recent times, employees are beginning to be assessed on output rather than how many hours they’ve been sat a desk, he claims.
“It’s not about how workers deliver work, but more about what they deliver. Employees are more loyal to employers who facilitate those who are flexible and trusted to perform.
“A stimulating environment that caters to the needs of the worker is core to a happy workforce,” said the BCO judge.
Peter joined Bruntwood in 1997 and shortly after became development director. He is responsible for setting up the Birmingham office and is now recognised as Bruntwood’s property director, where he is responsible for the team working on acquisitions, development, project delivery, lettings, asset management, professional services and disposals.
Each year, Peter acts as a judge for the BCO awards where, along with a team of professionals, he decides on the best office projects from across the country.
“When judging the BCO awards the main question I ask myself is ‘does this project promote a feeling of happiness and joy when circulating around it? And how can it promote retention of staff?’,” explains Peter.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee today stays at each of their jobs for 4.4 years, yet the predicted tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees or millennials is about half of this.
Some 91 per cent of Millennials expect to stay in a role for less than three years, meaning that they would have between 15-20 jobs in their lifetimes, Future Workplace reports.
However, Peter believes that with the right office environment and a flexibility that caters to its staff, businesses are more likely to keep employees for longer, which in turn reduces costs.
“It’s far better to create an environment that people enjoy working in than it is to constantly feed a recruitment machine.
“Try new things and be prepared for some of them not to work,” explains Peter. “People appreciate seeing that you are trying to create something that’s better for them.
“It’s an exciting time for businesses who want to experiment with their office space, there’s a less strict rule book to adhere to which pushes boundaries and allows creativity to flow.”