Employees in Higher Education put a premium on quiet space

Savills reveals that a large proportion of HE employees are not satisfied with the provision of quiet work space at universities

80% of higher education workers say that having a quiet space for focused work is important to them, but only 34% are highly satisfied with the current availability of quiet areas in their offices, according to research from Savills.

Of those respondents who are employed in higher education establishments, 92% said that they are employed in an office environment. Of these 46% work in private offices opposed to open-plan. This compares to just 21% of workers in the wider UK sample, says Savills.

Academic workers spend far more time on the phone than their counterparts in other industries, according to Savills research. 24% of respondents from the education sector said they spend over half of their working day making or receiving calls, far above the 2% of other UK office workers who also said they spend this proportion of time on the phone.

University modernisation programmes therefore need to ensure that workers are given greater access to workspaces where they can focus on quiet work, according to the international real estate advisor.  

Higher education workers top 20 priorities for their workplace: 

 

Importance

Current          satisfaction

Length of commute to work

86%

64%

A quiet space for focused work

80%

34%

Having access to a number of toilets

78%

55%

Overall cleanliness of the office

78%

51%

Good quality wireless technology

76%

55%

Good public transport connections

71%

54%

Having food facilities (e.g. canteen/ café/ bar, food vending machine, kitchen)

63%

39%

The internal design/ layout

59%

32%

Personal storage space

56%

42%

Availability of meeting rooms

55%

39%

Access to collaboration space with colleagues

54%

38%

Close proximity to green space/parks

46%

59%

Car parking

41%

38%

View from the workplace

36%

38%

Good environmental performance (i.e. Green rating) of the building

36%

26%

Having a green space/ garden/ roof terrace

34%

39%

Bicycle storage

32%

49%

Close proximity to retail/ leisure facilities

31%

43%

Access to shower/changing facilities

26%

31%

A variety of local retail/ leisure facilities available

26%

41%

Steve Lang, director in the commercial research team at Savills, says: “Given the amount of time those in higher education spend making calls it’s not surprising that having quiet spaces where they can concentrate and have confidential conversations is so important. The private office can serve this purpose, but the trade off is that they often use space inefficiently and don’t suit modern ways of working, and evidently even some of our respondents who have an office are still dissatisfied with the availability of quiet spaces on campus.

“Many university modernisation programmes are therefore rightly looking to reconfigure layouts to provide office spaces that are more suitable to evolving needs. But it’s imperative designers give workers a choice of quiet areas s to use when necessary, even if the majority of the time they share a workspace.”

Savills asked workers to assign importance to a variety of different factors associated with their working environment, then to state how their current office satisfies these requirements.

Source: What Workers Want survey 2016 carried out by YouGov on behalf of the British Council for Offices and Savills. 

Note: The percentage represents the proportion of respondents applying ‘high’ importance or ‘high’ satisfaction to the variable.  ‘High’ is defined as a respondent’s score of four or five out of a maximum of five.  

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