Importance of office atmosphere should not be underestimated

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Importance of office atmosphere should not be underestimated (image credit: iStock/mediaphotos)

Employers could benefit from stepping up efforts to improve the atmosphere and ambience in their main working area.

According to research carried out by Ipsos for Steelcase, 33 per cent of workers in the UK do not like their office environment, partly because they cannot do much to ensure it meets their requirements.

This was a considerably higher proportion than the amounts recorded in 16 other countries for the survey.

As a result, employers in the UK might need to do more than their overseas counterparts to ensure workers remain happy, healthy and motivated in the workplace.

The room temperature at work appears to be a particular bugbear for office workers in the UK, with 45 per cent citing this as an issue. Meanwhile, 32 per cent said they feel the intensity of the light is too great.

However, the research suggests that much of the annoyance and frustration among employees could be minimised with a few simple steps.

For example, just 39 per cent of those polled said they have the ability to adjust the office temperature. Similarly, only 21 per cent of respondents said they are able to adjust the lighting in their workspace.

Employers could therefore improve worker satisfaction rates by addressing these issues and making it possible for members of staff to have more control over their environment.

The study indicated that the most engaged employees tend to be individuals who have lots of flexibility regarding their working arrangements.

By contrast, those who have little flexibility and control over their working environment were found to be most likely to be disengaged at work.

Christine Congdon, director of global research communication and editor of 360 Magazine at Steelcase, commented: "When people feel like they have choice and control over various aspects of their physical work environment, it leads to greater satisfaction overall.

'Everybody is different and personal preference will depend on an individual’s natural physiology, their mood on a particular day and the task they are working on."

Steelcase believes this situation has arisen partly because British companies are increasingly favouring open-plan offices.

Indeed, figures show that nearly half of office workers in the UK are based in an open-plan environment. However, Steelcase has pointed out that while this approach can save money, it can limit the amount of control workers have over their working area.

"To cater to these constantly changing needs, employers should pay more attention to providing a range of working environments, including the ability to adjust workspace basics as required," Ms Congdon added.

Other options to make the working environment more pleasant for members of staff could include offering natural light, good views and access to nature, as well as ensuring office space does not get overcrowded and too noisy.