Derek Binnie: Worker wellbeing pays dividends

Investing in the working environment can help secure talent, argues Derek Binnie. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Investing in the working environment can help secure talent, argues Derek Binnie. Picture: Stewart Attwood
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US tech giant Google recently announced plans for its UK headquarters in London – while only a shade on its big brother worldwide HQ, Googleplex, in Mountain View, California, it is still a behemoth in UK and European terms.

If there are three main underlying foundations to what the senior team at Google want their enormous work spaces to be, culture, productivity and – increasingly – wellbeing, are most certainly to the fore.

Organisations are moving culture, productivity and wellbeing up the agenda

Derek Binnie

To attract and retain the best talent for your workforce in a way that translates to commercial advantage, companies of all shapes and sizes agree that you must create an environment that gets the best out of your team – and, crucially, somewhere your people look forward to spending the majority of their waking hours.

RocketSpace chief executive Duncan Logan touched on this during his trip to Scotland in November when he talked about how culture is possibly the biggest factor in the success of the unicorns, or billion dollar-valued companies, that have been nurtured at the tech campus he founded in San Francisco six years ago. If you can align the space your people work in with company culture, productivity will increase along with the satisfaction of your employee base.

READ MORE: Space Solutions eyeing acquisitions as sales hold firm

Closer to home, we now have household name tech companies in Scotland that have invested significant amounts of time, energy and money in creating working environments that will help secure the talent that will fuel their growth trajectories. What is increasingly clear, and evident from the work we do with SMEs and the public sector in Scotland, is that organisations are moving culture, productivity and wellbeing up the agenda and these three new pillars of the workplace are inexorably linked to physical space people.

Whether a business is in high growth mode or scaling back, merging or consolidating, relocating to a different part of a town or city, or even a new region or country, much more thought and planning from board level down is going into what is undoubtedly a major event in the life of an organisation. Definitive industry research across the globe confirms that creating an environment that inspires and engages your people translates to economic benefit and competitive advantage. Similarly, commentators agree that having real design expertise at your disposal is crucial and that it is never too early to put future property and office requirements under the microscope.

For most of our clients across Scotland and the rest of the UK, the kind of situations that prompt the thinking and planning processes to begin for CEOs and business owners include lease-ends, rapid growth phases and M&A. Conversely, more prevalent in some sectors of industry like oil and gas, manufacturing and the public sector, it can be about consolidation and restructuring.

Whatever the situation, what is commonplace looking ahead to 2017 is the need for business leaders to adapt to trends and a fast-changing economic environment – here, you might think of the impact of millennials on the future workforce or what Brexit and indyref2 will mean to our nation’s economy.

The benefits of creating an environment to achieve commercial success should be front of mind in our boardrooms across the country. In a time of uncertainty, what is certain is that there is opportunity alongside the well documented challenges of the day.

Engaging with SMEs looking to leverage all their assets, from people to property, and seeing their ability to be flexible and adapt, gives me great confidence that our economy will ride out any storm predictions for 2017.

• Derek Binnie is director of strategic growth at worplace design specialist Space Solutions

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