UK employees take exception to their office environment

UK workers are the least satisfied with their office ambience, a study finds.

The study by Steelcase of more than 12,000 workers across 17 countries, carried out by Ipsos, found that a third (33 per cent) of workers say they don’t like their office environment and suffer from a lack of control over making it suit their needs.

Some 45 per cent of UK workers are dissatisfied with the room temperature at work, while 32 per cent are unhappy with the light intensity. Only 39 per cent of respondents say they can adjust the office temperature, while a mere 21 per cent can alter the lighting.

Related: The impact of effective lighting in the workplace

The study shows that a lack of flexibility and control over the physical work environment correlates with a lack of engagement. In contrast, highly-engaged employees are those that have the most flexibility over how and where they work.

The situation in the UK is likely to be influenced by the country’s dominance of open-plan design, with 49 per cent of workers based in this kind of space due to its cost-saving benefits. However, this can limit employees’ individual control over their environment.

Christine Congdon, director of global research communication and editor of 360 Magazine at Steelcase says that the research has consistently shown that the most engaged workers are those who have autonomy over how and where they work, whether adjusting the temperature, lighting, or workspace to suit their needs.

‘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. 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.’

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