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Human Performance at Work

By Alison Judd posted Jul 10, 2019 01:47 AM


On Wednesday 26th of June, CoreNet Global UK hosted the successful ‘Human Performance at Work’ event which focused on using science to evaluate the performance of people in the workplace and how we can use this insight to provide a human return on workplace investments. 


The session was opened by moderator, Tom Flatau of TWI who discussed the evolution of the workplace from Unilevers ‘Philanthropic’ office design, to the industrial age through to when electricity was invented and transformed the workplace and gave rise to the concept of individual workstations.

Tom spoke about how innovators keep looking at ways to create spaces that allow people to collaborate more effectively and this in turns increases productivity levels.


As CRE professionals, we need to produce evidence to support the need for ‘people friendly’ design and science can be used to aid this and demonstrate how good workspace can positively impact ROI. The session looked at the topic from three perspectives:


Health: both our physical and mental wellbeing 

Cognition: our ability to effectively conduct work tasks 

Behaviour: how environment can influence how we connect and engage with others 


Health perspective


Nick White from LearnAdaptBuild looked at productivity from a health perspective, discussed how when people aren’t looking after their health or get burnt out, it dramatically affects their productivity levels. He addressed a number of factors that affect productivity and how by improving many of these, productivity and therefore ROI can be improved.


  • Sleep
  • Noise
  • Lighting
  • Nourishment
  • Biophilic design
  • Mindfulness


Nick stressed that even if a workplace was created to take all these factors into consideration, the key to success was the development of a company culture – from the top down – that would encourage employees to embrace all the benefits.




Josh Artus from Centric Lab spoke about how stress is the number one killer of human performance. Stress has been understood through a psychological lens around factors such as financial and social but Centric Lab have been understanding how stress works as a biological system and what that does to our cognition and work performance without us being aware. There are many urban factors both where people live, work and travel that affect their stress levels. Centric has developed a pre-occupancy digital tool that performs geospatial analytics and workflow analytics of an area and a building to produce a location and company specific bespoke, digital evidence based report. 

The report evaluates risks to human performance as a result of a company's urban footprint, and weighs risks according to their impact on workflow, giving insights into mitigation techniques.

Josh spoke about how the opportunity to take lab based science into the real world can be done through assessing urban stressors impact on human performance and in turn identify ways to enhance a persons’ productive capacity.

One statistic shared was that spread across a year absenteeism and presenteeism from poor sleep equates to 22 minutes lost per person. By targeting specific health qualities in building curation even a 5 minute per day reduction in distraction, irritation, disengagement could result in a huge ROI. They believe it's about doing what you already do, but with more data making your decisions more accurate. Any investment into creating effective workplaces and fit out costs could be recouped by this alone.



The third speaker, Ros Pomeroy, Co-Founder of workplace science practice, brainybirdz, spoke about the impact of workplace design on behaviour and how physical space can influence collaboration.

Ros focused on three key learnings in relation to the topic:


Learning 1

Visibility. Collaboration is affected by the likelihood of people bumping into each other. Ros showed how to evaluate the most visible areas within a workplace design, which studies have shown are also the areas which will tend to be occupied by more people more often. 


Learning 2 

Co-location. Workplaces that create areas that facilitate co-location have been shown to increase the levels of face to face communication which again affect collaboration levels. 


Learning 3

Intimacy. Ros gave a case study example where it was shown that smaller, more intimate, spaces fostered more face to face conversations than larger ones. 


During the preparation for this event the team worked with CBRE, the main sponsors of the event, to develop a framework for human performance at work which identifies four levers that an organisation can pull on. These are:


Environment: the places that people work 

Systems: the processes and tools that enable work 

Community: the relationships formed through work 

Individual: the pursuit of fulfilment through work 


The experts believe that in most cases organisations will be addressing aspects of this framework but very few will be taking a holistic approach. The team has prepared a diagnostic survey that corporate occupiers can complete to understand where they sit in relation to a growth model that the team has co-developed. Those that complete the diagnostic will receive a copy of the framework and a report that includes a set of recommendations and chart that will show them where they sit on the growth model relative to the other organisations that have taken part. The results of this assessment will be analysed and your personal report will be sent to you over the coming weeks. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the report, please provide your email address when you have completed the survey, please click the link below. 

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