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Savvy desk management could save British business £34bn


UK plc. can potentially save around £34bn by freeing up desk space and working more flexibly, according to a new survey. However, the survey found the majority of UK business leaders are grossly underestimating what is possible to save with two out of three (65%) insisting their business can’t lose any desks.

The YouGov poll showed business decision makers who thought they could save desk space through flexible working estimated they could lose on average 46 desks. But they vastly underestimate the value of those desks, citing an average saving of £441 per desk – not even 10% of the £5,746 average cost of a desk in the UK*. In actual fact, based on respondents’ estimates of the number of desks they could lose those businesses stand to save an average of £260,000 per year.

One in five of those surveyed thought that their employees remained rooted to the old principle that all employees should have their own desk space (21%) and flexible working ultimately leads to employees taking advantage of the system (23%). The majority of business decision makers (77%) agreed that they measure success by results rather than time spent in the office, yet only one in five (20%) thought that they could get rid of desks through flexible working and more than a third (37%) haven’t even considered flexible working as a way of cutting costs.

Jeroen Hoencamp, enterprise director at Vodafone UK, said:

“We need to get Britain working smarter and thinking about different ways of working.  The desk-bound, building-based work model no longer works for every business. A potential saving of up to £34bn is staggering.”

The research reveals that working from home is the most common form of flexible working businesses allow, with almost half of companies (42%) surveyed offering this, other flexible ways of working include shared workspaces, hot-desking and flexi-desks.

Lux, Commercial Director at teliqo, a provider of cloud-based telephony services, added:

“A lot of senior management – especially the old-school types – see the likes of Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer insisting that all employees come back into the office, and this reinforces their concerns that remote working is bad for productivity – the image of somebody sat at home in their pyjamas watching daytime TV rather than ironing out the kinks in that crucial presentation is hard to shift!

“But they have nothing to worry about. In fact, remote working enables people to be even more productive.

“A cloud-based telephony system that capitalises on the growing take-up of BYOD schemes by providing each employee with a single work number they can make and receive calls on from their personal smartphone, tablet, or laptop can enable them to work productively wherever suits them best and to remain fully contactable at all times, while saving the employer up to 40 per cent by providing voice and data services from the same source,” he concluded.

Other key findings from the survey revealed: – Fewer than a fifth of businesses (18%) have a “hot-desking” policy – Employee attitudes are not a big barrier to implementing flexible working policies, with only 17% citing employees’ reluctance to embrace flexible working as a barrier – 36% of senior business decision makers believe reducing desk space would be inappropriate for their business – 33% think reducing desk space would have a negative impact on collaboration/teamwork


*Figures quoted regarding the average cost of a desk in the UK (£5746) are taken from property company DTZ, whose Global Occupancy Costs – Offices report is available here

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 500 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th February – 1st March 2013. The survey was carried out online.




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