Ireland could unlock €3.4 billion in untapped GDP if organisations were to optimise their workplaces, according to a new study by Ricoh and Oxford Economics. The research, entitled The Economy of People, found that Ireland could achieve a 1.0% increase in GDP by providing more up-to-date technologies, embracing ethical business practices and enhancing office workspaces.
The study, which involved business managers and employees across Ireland and the UK, revealed that 93% of Irish workers believe their workstation is essential to their productivity levels. The other leading factors were cited as office environment, including lighting and airflow, and collaborative spaces, such as meeting rooms and communal areas.
Business leaders also appreciated the importance of office environment on effective business performance with 87% ranking it as a critical element. Two-thirds (67%) felt that employee workstations were vital for output, suggesting that executives need to reassess the layout, design and privacy of employees’ personal space in order to help them reach their potential.
According to the research, if organisations were to take the initiative and optimise their offices, they could not only enhance business productivity but boost revenues and ultimately generate an increase in GDP. The sectors in Ireland that would benefit the most from office optimisation were found to be financial services (€1 billion), healthcare (€854 million), business services (€555 million), education (€489 million) and the public sector (€468 million).
With this potential revenue growth, it’s not surprising that the research found that over a third of Irish businesses are planning to spend between 5% and 10% of their total operating costs on office modernisation initiatives in the next year.
The findings also explored the area of remote working, highlighting that more than half of executives feel they provide the tools required to assist remote working and 83% of workers believe they could be more efficient given the right technology to enable mobile workstyles.
Moreover, Irish employees revealed that the improvement of technology would have the greatest impact on the amount of time they spend at work, how they collaborate with colleagues and those outside the organisation, and the generation of creative ideas.
However, it’s not all about technology with 90% of Irish workers revealing that business ethics and values encourage them to work more effectively, showcasing the importance of culture. The vast majority of business executives (97%) also acknowledged this, citing the commitment to ethical business practice, defined by transparency and sustainability, as having a strong influence on performance.
Chas Moloney, Director, Ricoh Ireland and UK, said: “This new research really demonstrates the importance of culture, workspace and technology in terms of employee efficiency and business performance. Of course, it’s not solely about output, it’s about enabling effective decision-making, promoting wellbeing, encouraging innovation and establishing trust among workers.
“Culture is the foundation of a company and it serves as a stimulus which enables creative-thinking and innovation. The optimal office is the setting in which employees can be empowered and supported by bespoke workstyles. Irish businesses have a responsibility to assess and enhance where and how people work. In return, companies will benefit from heightened levels of productivity and employees who are invested in the optimal office.”
The full report is available here.