Putting the focus on concentration in office spaces

The GPA’s interim Deputy Director for Workplace Experience Leah Jones sheds light on the latest analysis of Civil Service workplaces

In today’s ever-changing office environment, it’s even more important for organisations to stay on top of the needs and expectations of its workforce and adapt where possible. 

The Government Property Agency (the GPA) manages over 45% of the Government’s office estate and we regularly survey thousands of civil servants to develop an unparalleled understanding of the needs and wants in the office workplace.

We are consistently looking at our data and insights to ensure the office spaces we design and manage reflect modern ways of working in the ever-changing post-covid world. Recent analysis has looked at why people come to the office. Understanding this helps with planning, strategy, and making the workplace a better place to be.

As the way we worked began to change rapidly, our insights and data highlighted four key “C’s” of the workplace: 

  • Collaboration
  • Community 
  • Creativity
  • Caring 

These were the key elements we had identified that create a meaningful workplace for civil servants, enabling higher productivity and greater employee satisfaction.  

But recent insights and research show that ‘concentration’ is just as important when it comes to being at the office. So, let’s explore how the fifth ‘C’ is shaping the future of the workplace.

The changing dynamics of the workplace

The way we work has been changing at pace for well over a decade, and it accelerated through COVID-19. Remote and flexible arrangements have become the new normal. As people are starting to spend more and more time back at the office, it’s important to reevaluate what motivates employees to come in. While collaboration, community, creativity and caring are still crucial factors to enable people to thrive in face-to-face environments, the power of concentration is undeniable. It’s a necessary part of the working day for knowledge workers and definitely deserves our attention.

Based on the research and evidence gathered from various surveys, it is time for us to add a fifth ‘C’ for concentration, making our list of workplace motivations even more comprehensive and relevant. 

The GPA Customer Satisfaction survey revealed that 73% of participants want to engage in concentration activities when they come to the office, making it the second most selected activity after collaboration. But it isn’t just our data pointing in this direction, our customer insights team looks at a range of data from experts across the field of workplace experience.

According to the Future Forum Pulse Winter Survey, 15% of participants consider having a quiet space to work as a driving motivational factor for working in the office. And The Gensler UK Workplace Survey found that 45% of office workers consider focusing on their work as the most important reason for coming to the office.

The power of concentration

Concentration is about being able to really get into your work with minimal distractions. Studies have shown that certain tasks, such as problem solving and critical thinking, are much easier when you can concentrate. While remote work offers flexibility, it’s not always easy to find a designated space where you won’t be interrupted. Even if individuals come into the office for collaboration or communication purposes, they may still require dedicated time for focused work. This is where effective office design becomes invaluable - providing a mix of spaces and empowering people to choose the most suitable space for their needs, enabling them to focus and ultimately boosting productivity.

So what’s next? 

This spring we will be releasing a new Workplace Experience Toolkit designed to help you to master the five C’s of a meaningful workplace. This toolkit will underpin our workplace experience planning at the GPA as we continue to lead the Government Hubs Programme and create the right environments for a transformed, smarter working Civil Service across the UK.

Get in touch today to join the virtual launch of our new Five C’s Workplace Experience Toolkit, gpasmartworkingqueries@gpa.gov.uk

By understanding and addressing the motivations of people using office spaces, we can create workplaces that truly cater for diverse needs.

Government Property Agency