R.I.P. the ‘cool’ office?

Imagine having your next financial meeting in a ball pond. Or a crisis conference call at a picnic table. If you work in one of the country’s ‘cooler’ offices, you’ll presumably be used to that. But is that what employees really want these days?

In recent years employers have introduced all sorts of ‘perks’ to attract staff and make theirs a distinctive and fun place to work. Perks that might include things like deck chairs, pool tables, games consoles, a cocktail bar and even a rowing boat in a meeting room (no, honestly!).

But the truth is, there’s more to employee happiness at work than having a hammock or turning the office into a circus. And if you think that’s just a severe case of ‘Bah, humbug!’ here are a few figures that back it up.

A survey by London’s Kiwi Movers in 2017 revealed that 86% of UK employees found fun office features of no value, while 25% actually think recreational equipment like ping pong tables are annoying. Among the features listed as most pointless were ‘hay bales instead of seats’, a ‘throne in reception that nobody wants to sit on’ and ‘beach huts’.

Culture, not cool…
Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly easy for employers to give people what they want. For example, another study suggested that 74% of workers simply wanted more screen privacy, as others seeing what they were working on caused anxiety.

Relationships are important too; long-lasting friendships at work tend to be forged around teamwork rather than in comfortable offices. Making socialising too easy makes for surface-level relationships.

The younger generation of workers also has a different attitude to what they want from their bosses. They’re looking for employers to care for their well-being and offer a better work-life balance – so expect a shift towards supporting happy, healthy lifestyles with an emphasis on mindfulness and yoga, perhaps. And more employees are looking at a company’s CSR commitments, to align themselves more with employers that have a social mission.

In other words, employers might be better off investing in a meaningful business culture, rather than building meaningless perks into their offices.

That’s what we’ve done at Back Office – rest assured, we only get our hammocks, deck chairs and barbecues out in summer!

If you’d like to chat to the Back Office team about any aspect of recruitment, just call us on 01260 280 290.

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