Office Buildings & Workplace Productivity

A poorly designed office, or one in an inconvenient location, can have a detrimental effect on workplace productivity. Read the full article

July 31, 2018

New Office Buildings And Workplace Productivity

Dubai’s office market is in significant oversupply. This oversupply means that tenants are able to be more discerning when it comes to choosing a new home for their business. With typical lease length at 3-5 years, choosing the right office is as important as choosing the right staff. A poorly designed office, or one in an inconvenient location, can have a detrimental effect on workplace productivity.

Why is workplace productivity important?

There are many things that can affect an employee’s productivity. Some things are out of the control of a company, for example if the employee had a difficult commute or is feeling ill. But there are some elements that the office space a company occupies directly impacts, for example office temperature, the natural light, office design or the parking facilities.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, make a note of how much time you must wait for an elevator to arrive. Then, during peak times around the start of the day, lunchtime, and the end of the day, see how many people squeeze into the elevator, and how many stops you make on your way to the top floor.

The elevator example is good one. Wasted time is possibly the easiest element of a day to measure that contributes to a lack of workplace productivity. If your team is wasting ten or more minutes a day using elevators, and struggling to enjoy the experience because the elevator is always full and stopping, it might be time to find another office.

How office building design affects workplace productivity

The good news for office tenants in Dubai is that whereas the market was oversupplied with lower grade buildings, it is now becoming oversupplied with single owned Grade A buildings. Tenants in a tower constructed 10 or 15 years ago are now in a position to negotiate for new office space, much of which can be found for a similar price as an older building.

Architects of Grade A buildings consider not only the look and function of a tower but also how it will be used by inhabitants. In many cases this means staff will be able to find parking spaces faster, making them happier when they arrive at work. Food and beverage outlets will be more varied; elevators will work more efficiently, public transport access will be better, views will be better; all of this affects the mood of an employee for the better and leads to greater workplace productivity.

But what will this cost?

Arguably the biggest financial barrier to a company moving premises is the fit-out cost. Some companies will often choose to renew a lease because the cost of fitting a shell and core office, can be prohibitive. Fortunately for Dubai’s tenants, as large MNC’s move premises they often agree with the landlord to leave behind the fitted out offices.

At JLL we are marketing many Grade A offices of varied sizes which have been vacated by banks and other large corporates or are being leased directly by landlords with a Category A handover. These former tenants followed their own global workplace strategies when choosing and fitting their offices; so leave behind ready-made property which may seek to answer much of the workplace productivity question. Although it is unlikely to tick all of the boxes and it is always better to start from scratch with a shell and core handover.

In Dubai it is no longer difficult to find high quality, competitively priced, pre-fitted office space.

This article by my colleague Tom Carroll looks at workplace design. Tom shows research which values happiness at work at between a 12 and 31% increase in productivity. The article mentions temperature and lighting sensors and facial recognition on entry so staff no longer need to remember a pass-card. These digital elements are part of everyday life in many major cities.

In Dubai we have been slow to realise the importance of office design in relation to employee happiness (and therefore productivity), but new product is coming online which speaks directly to tenants seeking a more sophisticated property.

ICD Brookfield Place in the DIFC is one example which competes soon in Q3 2019. One of this building’s selling points is that they have spent a lot of time and effort looking at the design and operational nature of the car park (which at 7 basements deep is the deepest in the Middle East) and have made sure it will use new smart technology and be easily navigable able to withstand morning and evening peak hours better than other buildings in the city. It may still take time to find a space, but getting in and out of the car park will be far less painful experience than the one enjoyed by tenants in some of the city’s other towers.

Key information and images of ICD Brookfield Place can be viewed here.

You can download JLL’s report on Workplace Productivity here.