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UK employees sweating it out in offices

Jitesh Patel
hot weather

New survey reveals that employees are willing to give up part of their salary for an office revamp. Employees would also spend a few more hours at work per day if they had improved facilities, increasing team bonding and wellbeing. Comment Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive, Peldon Rose.

With summer upon us, some businesses are failing to provide seasonal perks that workers say boosts productivity and motivation, as well as neglecting important facilities, including air conditioning and showers, which employees say directly improves their happiness. Employees also value improvements to the office environment to such an extent that they would be willing to sacrifice part of their salary for an office refurbishment and spend more time in the office if they had better facilities. These are the most significant findings of a new survey by workplace consultants and office design specialists, Peldon Rose.

As many organisations know, it can be difficult to keep employees engaged and motivated during the summer months and this survey helps businesses identify key areas to improve and top tips for businesses on how to address this. Summer perks: 84 percent believe that summer perks would make them more productive, yet 34 percent of offices don’t offer any Summer perks:  Casual dress, team drinks and team meals were the most commonly offered summer perk, while an early finish and ice cream delivery were the least common Office facilities: Two thirds (66 percent) believe that their office environment plays a key role in keeping them happy at work.

Office facilities: There are clear discrepancies between what employees value versus what their work offers, including 60 percent valuing air conditioning but 37 percent do not have it; 57 percent value outdoor spaces/opportunities for fresh air but 66 percent do not have it available; 40 percent value natural lighting yet 39 percent don’t have it, and; 34 percent value showers and changing facilities yet 65 percent don’t have access to them. Happiness: 42 percent of employees say that their current office environment does not have a positive impact on their happiness and only 36 percent enjoy coming to work everyday. Salary sacrifice: A third (31 percent) of employees said they would sacrifice at least 1 percent of their salary for an office refurbishment with enhanced office facilities.

Extra hours: 66 percent of employees said they would spend more hours in the office if extra facilities were provided, with 17 percent saying they would spend more than 2 hours extra per day. Relationships: Three quarters (76 percent) said their colleagues/peers are a key factor in keeping them happy at work followed by a good relationship with their boss (68 percent). Staff bonding: 87 percent of employees report that summer perks help them to bond with their colleagues. Productivity: More than half (59 percent) of employees feel they are most productive working in the office yet less than half (48 percent) are involved in any planned changes to the office.

The survey reveals that while 84 percent of the UK workforce believe that summer perks make them more productive and 40 percent said they would keep them happy at work, yet a third (34 percent) of businesses do not offer any form of seasonal benefits. Of the companies that did offer such perks, the most common were casual dress (35 percent), team drinks (34 percent) and team meals (22 percent). However, the most valued summer perks, including operating summer hours, e.g. early finish (59 percent) and ice cream delivery (37 percent), were the least offered by businesses (7 percent and 13 percent, respectively). To keep employees engaged, providing simple, cost-friendly summer benefits that promote a work-life balance will help to increase employee productivity and create a happy, well rounded work environment.

In the warmer summer months, office facilities that allow employees to keep fit and cool off while enjoying the nicer weather are important for employees’ happiness. When it comes to office facilities, the survey revealed that the office environment (66 percent) is one of the top factors that is likely to keep employees happy at work, yet there tends to be clear discrepancies in the facilities employees value versus what their work offers. The facilities that employees tend to value the most include air conditioning (60 percent) yet 37 percent don’t have air conditioning; 57 percent valuing outdoor spaces and opportunities for fresh air but 66 percent of offices do not offer these spaces; 40 percent value natural lighting and 39 percent don’t have access to it and; 34 percent value showers or changing facilities and 65 percent do not have these facilities available to them. Providing staff with the opportunity to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing through exercise, fresh air and cooling is a must for all businesses in order to attract and retain the best talent.

Two thirds (66 percent) of UK workers said that the office environment is one of the key factors that keeps them happy at work, yet 42 percent say that their current office does not have a positive impact their happiness, furthermore only 36 percent enjoy coming to work every day. Employees have even expressed an interest in helping to address the problem, with almost a third (31 percent) of employees revealing they would be willing to sacrifice at least 1 percent of their salary for an office refurbishment with enhanced facilities, and 66 percent of employees reporting that they would spend more hours in the office if extra facilities were provided, with 17 percent saying they would spend more than two hours extra a day. These statistics should be seen as an opportunity to many employers to think about how they can allocate funds in alternative ways to improve the office culture and help attract and retain talent. By improving the office by incorporating facilities like a coffee bar, gym or shower, businesses will create opportunities for staff to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, refreshments and exercise together. 

If employees are provided office facilities that make them more inclined to spend more time in the office, staff will be provided more opportunities to bond and team build – key criteria for a happy workforce. One of the main factors that keeps employees happy in the workplace is building relationships with their colleagues and peers (76 percent), closely followed by a good relationship with their boss (68 percent). Providing opportunities for colleagues to spend time outside of work together is a simple way to build relationships and trust among workers.  In the summer months, this is even more important, with 87 percent of employees reporting that summer perks would help them to bond with their colleagues. Take advantage of the warmer weather by planning simple yet engaging activities for staff to relax and bond while promoting collaboration and communication. If there are opportunities to maximise exposure to fresh air and daylight at the same time, then that would be a double bonus.

Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive, Peldon Rose, the office design specialists, commented: “We know that in the summer, employees tend to exercise more, eat healthier and place a higher value on office facilities, such as changing areas, showers and air conditioning. They also want to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air whenever possible, making the desire to have access to outdoor spaces and natural lighting that much more important to their wellbeing.

As our survey reveals, it is clear that employees don’t feel their offices are doing enough to meet these needs or to instigate team bonding. If employees are willing to give up part of their salary and spend more time in the office due to an office refurbishment, businesses should take notice and put an emphasis on creating strategic changes to their office that benefits their workforce. The majority (59 percent) of UK workers say they work most productively in the office, yet less than half (48 percent) are involved in any planned changes to the office. If employees feel involved and engaged in decisions around the work environment, they are more likely to spend more time in the office, form deeper relationships, and improve collaboration, staff retention and productivity.

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