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Creativity is stunted by dull offices28th February 2013


Dull and demotivating workplaces are holding back business-critical creativity, according to a new report based on opinion research among 2,000 office-based employees from across the UK.

The study, which was commissioned by it out and refurbishment specialist Overbury, found that workers consider idea generation crucial to their employer’s performance, but felt unable to work creatively together in their offices.

Almost two thirds of office-based employees (59 per cent) state that the development of new ideas is vital to their organisation, and almost half (48 per cent) claim that sharing ideas would considerably improve their employer’s competitive position.

Half (50 per cent) agreed that their company would be significantly more profitable if staff were able to be more creative.

However, employees also state that their working environment is thwarting creativity, with the majority (52 per cent) of UK offices lacking common or social areas.

As a result, a third of office workers (33 per cent) lament a lack of opportunity to collaborate. One in three (29 per cent) feel unable to generate new ideas at work, and 35 per cent actually prefer to work from home whenever possible because of their uninspiring workplace.

Anthony Brown, sales and marketing director at Overbury, said: “At a time when organisations in the UK are looking to their staff to drive innovation and competitive advantage, it is worrying to hear that so many employees are lacking the tools they need to be creative.

“Organisations must recognise that providing an inspiring and functional working environment is key to getting the best from their staff.”

More than a third (36 per cent) find their office demotivating, while a quarter (25 per cent) describe it as “sedate and silent”. Almost one in ten (8 per cent) go as far as to call their workplace a “creative and cultural desert”.

The study highlights a missed opportunity for UK organisations, whose staff are keen to work creatively together.

Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of UK office workers said that they get on well with their co-workers and almost two thirds (61 per cent) feel that their best ideas arise from impromptu conversations with colleagues. More than a quarter (27 per cent) of employees state that they are at their most creative when talking informally to people around the office.

Two fifths (40 per cent) believe that better quality common areas and social space would enhance collaboration and creativity. More than half (52 per cent) say that team spirit would also benefit.

Anthony Brown said: “Staff are crying out for space in which to work creatively together and employers are failing to provide these high-quality common areas, frustrating the talents of their workforce.”

“Organisations are missing a golden opportunity to foster greater ideas generation by putting creative collaboration and social interaction at the heart of their office design.”

To boost their creativity, UK workers want:

1. More social space (25 per cent)
2. Better heating/cooling (24 per cent)
3. Provide food and drinks (22 per cent)
4. Install better quality furnishings (21 per cent)
5. Offer nicer coffee (18 per cent)

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