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Mon May 10 2021

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Report finds that better workplace design could add £20bn to GDP

25 Jul 17 Putting people’s needs at the centre of workplace building design could add £20bn to UK gross domestic product (GDP) according to a new study.

HCD in action at Harraby Community Campus
HCD in action at Harraby Community Campus

More thoughtfully designed workplaces, centred around people’s needs, could improve performance and help tackle the UK’s productivity gap, found the study by researchers from Imperial College London in partnership with Atkins. Applying design thinking to boost workplace productivity by 5% to 8% could contribute up to £20 billion to GDP, they calculated.

Atkins commissioned the research to better understand and quantify the economic benefit from human centred design (HCD). The research examines the ripple-down effect on productivity brought about by an HCD focus on health and wellbeing. This in turn has a benefit for future business growth and can enhance the position of the national economy.

The research underlines the importance of employees’ experience of the building in which they work and found that steps to create the right working environment can have a material impact on staff productivity and wellbeing.

It identifies six key areas where different approaches could be taken:

lighting – improving daylight provision and the quality of artificial lighting;

ventilation / air quality – increasing ventilation flows and reducing Volatile Organic Compounds and carbon dioxide;

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thermal comfort – including enabling an individual to control the temperature of their immediate space;

noise and acoustics – reducing environmental noise (roads etc), white noise (air conditioning systems etc) and pink noise (human voice frequency);

interaction – increasing the control and self-determination of the office environment including control of lighting, ventilation, physical desk setup and chosen setting;

isual elements – including plants and outside views, nature and materials.

It also notes that relatively rapid payback on investment in these areas can be achieved, this is estimated to range between two to six years, with some individual elements seeing payback in as little as six months.

Philip Watson, design director at Atkins, said: “This research underlines the incredible potential of human-centric design. It puts employees’ productivity and wellbeing at the forefront of building design. Finding ways to boost productivity and strengthen GDP is even more important amid the growing challenges facing parts of the UK economy.”

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