Bigger than Brexit: Britain’s productivity crisis

“Bigger than Brexit: Britain’s productivity crisis”, was the title of a Telegraph newspaper article earlier in the month that covered a topic that my team and I have been talking about for ages.

This article explained that for years and years, worker productivity in the UK has fallen behind other European and G7 countries by more than 30%.

With the UK preparing, albeit slowly, to exit Europe nothing is more important to the future prosperity of the nation and standard of living of its’ citizens that our productivity compared to other nations.

Simply put, if UK organisations are more productive than other nations, we all enjoy a better standard of living in the longer term.

In October of this year, the UK reported a further reduction in productivity.

So how do we improve our productivity?

Fundamentally, we need to ensure that everyone who goes to a place of work in the UK is enabled and supported to be at their most productive.

A research report “Why your workforce isn’t working” just published by Sage highlights, for me, what are some of the real insights which answer this question. The results of the research suggest;

  • That positive work and workplace experience drive productivity
  • Workplace employees recognise that they are less productive than they could be and
  • Employers aren’t asking employees for any feedback on this issue, or if they are, are asking the wrong questions

These are conclusions that really resonate with me, based on the findings that are flowing from the workplace optimisation research and work our team at LCMB are undertaking. As well as working with our clients to improve their workplace productivity, we are leading the Whole Life Performance Plus (WLP+) project, to improve workplace productivity, health and well-being. This is a project in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, Argent, Kings College London, EMCOR UK, British Council for Offices and Constructing Excellence, with financial support from Innovate UK and EPSRC to develop an indoor environmental quality model to improve workplace productivity.

Our work is highlighting that when the performance of modern workplaces is properly measured, the environments often fall short of the optimum in terms of temperature and CO2 to allow workers to work at their optimum. Recent research by Harvard University and the World Green Building Council has heighted and shown that worker productivity increases when these conditions are optimised. This means that those organisations that invest in optimising the performance of their buildings will see an improvement in their workplace productivity and organisational performance.

What continually surprises me is how few organisations put in place a structured approach to defining, measuring and improving productivity and systemically improving the return on investment (ROI) they get from their buildings and estates.

It is poor and falling productivity, not Brexit, which is the biggest threat to the future economic prosperity of the UK as a nation state separate to Europe.

However, to end on an upbeat note I sense that the UK Government, and other drivers of policy, are now waking up to the impact the productivity issue will have post Brexit. Have you?

If you’d like to discuss and explore how my team and I can help improve the productivity of your organisation and return on investment, you get from your buildings based on our work and research then get in touch. I can be contacted on t: 01295 722823, e:,

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