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Our ultimate guide to the productive workplace – a prequel

The Optimal Workplace

UK companies are unproductive and it’s an urgent problem

The average UK worker is 26% less productive than a German worker, and 23% less so than a US worker. Not only are UK workers less productive, but they are less engaged: UK companies lose 10% of working days a year to absenteeism and presenteeism.

But there’s a simple way to increase productivity

You can increase people’s mental functioning and productivity by up to 25% simply by improving the working environment (including temperature, humidity, CO2, VOCs, light, noise and space) to recommended levels.

You might think your office already provides a good environment for your staff to be as productive as possible, but the majority of offices we surveyed actually undermine people’s productivity.

We believe the opportunity to improve worker performance simply cannot be ignored by businesses and the government.

We advocate a straightforward 5 step plan to improve the office environment in a cost-effective manner with the aim of creating a deep impact on staff health, engagement and productivity. It’s the culmination of a three-year Innovate UK programme by a consortium of experts in building performance, led by LCMB.

Business leaders, HR, Finance, Senior Managers, Team Leaders, Facilities and Estates Professionals and anyone interested in improving business results and productivity in the offices should be aware of this.

Potential economic and human factors behind the UK productivity gap

Worker productivity is fundamental for our economic health. However, the UK is doing much worse than our competitors.

This productivity gap is one of the biggest roadblocks to UK’s prosperity, but efforts to close this gap have failed so far.

Gross domestic product per hour worked, G7 countries
(source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Eurostat and Office for National Statistics calculations)














Low productivity is seen to be caused by economic and individual factors.

Economic factors that may cause lagging productivity

The common economic reasons given for UK’s low productivity are:

  • companies have invested too little
  • we measure productivity in the wrong way
  • low growth rates are sustaining zombie companies
  • businesses hold on to unproductive processes and workers

However, none of these reasons stand up under scrutiny which leaves us with little consensus why UK’s productivity is falling .

Individual factors that can cause lagging productivity

Some human factors that have a bearing on productivity include:

  • stress
  • office politics
  • management effectiveness
  • remuneration
  • job satisfaction
  • a sense of purpose
  • health
  • insufficient sleep

What is UK PLC doing about it?

Organisations launch countless initiatives to track and improve staff output, but sadly many of them are ineffective.

Naturally the UK wouldn’t have a productivity gap if it were easy to solve, however despite best efforts, there are no commonly recognised approaches or initiatives that measurably transforms staff productivity in the long term.

What are LCMB doing about it?

We decided to explore this issue in-depth with Innovate UK and a consortium of industry partners. Since we’re building specialists, we started with the question:

“How is human performance and productivity influenced by buildings?”

Over the course of three years, we found lots of laboratory data demonstrating how Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) affects productivity. Temperature, humidity, light, space, noise, CO2 and VOCs (among other factors) alter people’s motivation, cognitive capability, productivity and wellbeing. The data also showed us what the optimal levels are.

When we applied these metrics to the real world. We found a profusion of office environments that fell well short of optimum levels for human performance.

Armed with this evidence, we created a straightforward step by step process that enables companies to measure and improve the working environment for their people. This process will be outlined in our guide to be published in July. We hope people find it a valuable resource that improves organisation’s productivity.

The benefits from applying our approach can include:

  • Improved staff performance
  • Reduced risk of human error in mission critical situations
  • Enhanced wellbeing
  • Business innovation
  • Brand status
  • Staff recruitment
  • Staff retention and avoidance of recruitment and training costs due to staff attrition

If you’d like us to send you a copy of our ultimate guide when it’s published, please drop an email to with your contact details.

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LCMB Building Performance Ltd

LCMB Building Performance Ltd. (LCMB) improves the financial and environmental sustainability of buildings and estates, and the productivity and well-being of the people using them. We do this by reducing building operating costs, energy used and improving workplace environments and building space utilisation. We offer Facilities Management, Carbon and energy reduction and project management support.

Our clients include Tata Technologies, King’s College London, Birmingham Airport, Nando’s, Howard Tenens and England Golf.

Contact John O’Brien MD and Founder if you’d like to discuss how we can ensure your real estate and building projects return more value and enhanced Return on Investments (ROI).

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