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The Workplace Experience

“The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas. It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”

― Edward de Bono (Six Thinking Hats)


A workplace change project offers an immense opportunity to fuel organisational transformations, enhance the experience and improve employee productivity.  However, it is often claimed that organisation change projects fail to achieve stated objectives. The Leesman Index has reviewed whether these workplaces changes fail or succeed and explain where and why these results occur.

A shift is occurring in the workplace.  New ideas are being brought forward and how people want to work is changing.  Elite brands are resetting our expectations of services consumed both at work and at home.  What we expect from the products, amenities and spaces we use – including workplaces is changing.  This shift is affecting how we work and the environment we work in.


Do new workplaces work?

New workplace designs support employee activities that bring groups of people together but, individual activities can be hindered by them.

Best-supported activities in the new workplace Lowest-supported activities in the new workplace
  • Planned meetings
  • Informal social interaction
  • Collaborating
  • Learning from others
  • Informal, unplanned meetings
  • Accessibility of colleagues
  • Meeting rooms
  • Informal/breakout areas
  • Spreading out papers and materials
  • Private conversations
  • Confidential discussions
  • Telephone conversations
  • Thinking/creative thinking
  • Reading
  • Noise level
  • People walking past desks


Are workplace strategies at fault?
Choosing a workplace design concept

With two differing workplace concepts – designated and flexible – selecting an appropriate one can be challenging.  The Leesman Index found that open work environments can deliver great experiences for workers with flexible solutions delivering significant experience scores, whilst some offices with designated workstations fail.

Designated workstations do not guarantee success, nor are flexible solution indicative of failure.  Individually, workplace experiences are impacted by three aspects:

  1. Who you are

Workplaces need to be designed with employees in mind.  Older employees are less inclined to be content with workplace change.  This could be due to the impact on their work or they are used to designated workstations.  Younger employees are the most content with their workplace environment.

  1. What you do

Workplace environments influence different employees depending on their daily activities.  An employee’s role is a crucial factor in understanding workplace needs and improvement projects need to consider the activities and roles occurring in the workplace.

  1. Where you do it

New workplaces are being designed with a variety of settings to support a multitude of activities.  Employees who are more mobile and flexible and take advantage of these spaces enjoy a better workplace experience.


From the Leesman Index data, it is clear that there is a connection between what you do and where you do your work.  The new workplace has the largest positive benefit on employees with high activity complexity and also those with high mobility.

To create and develop an outstanding workplace experience, workplaces must be able to support a multitude of activities that are applicable to the number of differing roles located there.



The data the Leesman Index collected showed that, while an encouraging number of workplace change projects are successful, there are still some projects that only get mediocre results.

Both designated and flexible workplace concepts that are being implemented can succeed or fail.  But it did confirm that flexible seating arrangements are becoming increasingly popular.

New-style workspaces are more beneficial to employees’ whose work is more complex and demanding due to the additional variety of spaces to work in.  However, these workers do not make up the majority of the workforce.  Employees whose work focuses on only a few main core activities don’t necessarily work in a flexible and mobile way.

The conclusion ultimately confirms that successful workplace projects come down to how well the workplace is used and accommodate to the needs of the employees. And one solution does not fit all.