Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) is the first academic institution to achieve the prestigious Leesman+ award. Leesman+ is an accreditation that rewards organisations for exemplary high performing workplaces. To date, just 4% of the buildings surveyed have achieved a Leesman Lmi workplace effectiveness score of 70 or above. SHU is the first university to win this award.
The Leesman benchmarking tool considers the physical and service features that make up a workspace, in the context of the activities undertaken by the workforce. The ability to support activities and the design impact are the key criteria used to determine whether the space supports employee productivity and general workplace effectiveness.
SHU had decided to implement an agile working model while facilitating an office move. In order to measure satisfaction with the original and new workspaces, SHU commissioned Leesman to survey staff – including the Director of International Development and Director of Estates and Facilities.
As part of the University’s change management process, SHU wanted to delve deeper into assessing just how effective staff considered their work environment. Leesman, with an unparalleled capacity to report and benchmark results against a series of key performance indicators, were able to facilitate this request.
The space is now reaching 70-90% satisfaction levels in the majority of the 90 areas reviewed, including workplace design and its impact on productivity; workplace activities such as meetings and focused work; workplace features including natural light, noise and temperature control; and workplace facilities such as cleanliness, security, refreshments and IT.
Between the pre and post surveys, SHU had moved from a traditional building set up to a space with absolutely no desk ownership. Working closely with the IT department, the facilities team set up a new computer and VOIP system; one which could support an agile working environment. In addition, the space now features an abundance of informal spaces, which has improved social interaction and collaboration among employees. The design of the building supports productivity and performance thanks to incorporating more natural light and a range of different workspaces to suit the tasks that staff carry out.
The new space has drastically improved the staff experience. In addition to sporting an impressive and professional façade, the building boasts a number of high quality facilities and the design of the space has contributed towards an improved sense of community.
Mark Swales, director of estates and facilities, is delighted to have won the Leesman+ award: “We’ve implemented a number of innovative working practices for the staff who work in our Bryan Nicholson building. The flexible working arrangements have really been embraced by the teams and this is shown by the fantastic feedback in the Leesman report.
“The move into the building gifted us the opportunity to look into how we worked as a team, what was important to individual staff and how people interact with the building itself. We have a number of new and renovated buildings set to be occupied in 2016 including our new development at Charles Street and the former Head Post Office – we are constantly looking at better ways of working and are buoyed by the brilliant post-occupancy survey Leesman carried out.”