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The Workplace Oooh: Half of UK workers ‘uninspired’ by the office

A new report by interior design and fit-out business Claremont has found UK workers are finding British offices and places of work to be “uninspiring” and “uninviting”, with many blaming the pandemic for the shift in work attitudes. 

Claremont surveyed more than 1,000 office workers across a range of sectors to identify the impact of an office on a workforce’s behaviour and how staff need to feel in order to be happy, healthy and productive.  

Dubbed ‘The Workplace Oooh’, the research revealed that almost half of employees – 52 per cent of hybrid workers and 48 per cent of full-time office-based workers – feel uninspired by their workplace, while 42 per cent say their office doesn’t make them feel valued. 

It also revealed that the vast majority of today’s employees (84 per cent) expect the office to deliver an “experience”, rather than it just being a place to complete tasks.   

Sarah Syson, Head of Design at Claremont said: “In recent years, the very essence of how, when and where we work has changed and the office has taken on a new role. It’s no longer the everyday place for work and so it must work much harder to make itself relevant and inviting. Now, the office needs to give employees the feelings and experiences that lone working leaves us wanting – those rich in face-to-face contact, collaboration and socialisation.” 

The research also revealed the six key emotions that today’s employees seek from their workplace – they want to feel inspired, valued, connected, supported, included and proud. 

Camaraderie and a feeling of connection with colleagues is key – over a third (35 per cent) of all employees and 42 per cent of hybrid employees said they want to visit the office to feel human connection and teamwork is what makes people feel the most productive and positive about being in the office. 

Cost of living has also had an impact on attitudes to places of work, with 28 per cent of people sharing that a major reason they would visit the office is to be in a heated space. For the youngest workers, this rose to 31 per cent of Generation Z. 

Equally, workers revealed red flags that can put them off attending the office including poor kitchen facilities, poor & outdated office etiquette, lack of quiet spaces, no wellbeing spaces, concerns about cleanliness, no access to the outdoors and even bad coffee.

The data also revealed that: 

  • Nearly a third of employees want a fun creative environment (30 per cent), closely followed by using brilliant technology (29 per cent).
  • Seeing friends and working as part of a team is also essential for modern workers, with almost a third saying it makes them feel positive about work (32 per cent) and the same saying it makes them feel productive (31 per cent).
  • Collaboration is also highly valued but mostly by the Baby Boomer generation with 40 per cent saying they want face-to-face collaboration opportunities. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of this audience also wanted better technology in the workplace to help them collaborate with colleagues.
  • Generational differences are highlighted too, with stark attitude shifts from Baby Boomers through to Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. The youngest group of workers, Generation Z, are the proudest of their workspaces at 84 per cent, but they do have high expectations of it with a fifth (20 per cent) expecting it to be environmentally conscious. 
  • Inclusion mattered to all workers, covering a range of needs including flexible working. Flexible working was highlighted as an important factor for female employees (45 per cent compared with 37 per cent of men) and was prevalent most for Millennials and Generation X.

Syson continued: “The research really highlights that a workplace needs to suit employees’ evolving demands – which means catering for their emotional needs and helping them to feel happy, healthy and more productive – as well as meeting their more practical task-based needs with systems and technology.   

“With factors including flexible working, cost of living and eco-conscious workspaces being highlighted as important to workers, it’s more important now than ever before for a workplace to meet workers’ needs at every level. 

“The research also highlighted that far too many workplaces aren’t up to the job and they definitely don’t have ‘The Workplace Oooh’, which could well lead to high staff turnover or recruitment struggles down the line.” 

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