What makes a great workplace?

New research shows business leaders want Comfort, great Connectivity and space for Concentration

New research published by Beaming, the business ISP, has revealed that British business leaders value private spaces for undistracted working above open plan arrangements and believe tidiness to be one of the most important components of a great working environment.

Through a survey conducted by the research consultancy Opinium, Beaming discovered that 80 percent of business leaders believe space to work without distractions was an important part of a great workplace. This was significantly more than the number saying that open plan working environments (57 percent) or room for meetings and collaboration (66 percent) were important.

Beaming’s research also indicates that business leaders prefer environments that promote conformity. 85 percent of leaders surveyed said that tidiness was an important component of what makes a great workplace. This preference for tidiness was strongest amongst small and medium businesses, where 92 percent and 97 percent of leaders respectively said it was important. Lawyers, manufacturers and accountants were amongst the most likely sectors to say that a tidy environment was important to their operations.

Research from the University of Minnesota revealed in 2013 that people in orderly offices were more inclined to do what is expected of them, while those in a messy environment displayed a greater tendency to take risks, choose novel solutions to problems and come up with more ‘interesting and creative’ ideas. An earlier study at The University of Exeter showed that people working in spaces decorated with pictures and plants outperformed those occupying barer office environments. The most productive, however, were people empowered to control the layout of their own workspaces.

Price trumps location for cost conscious bosses

Beaming’s survey shows that business leaders remain focused on cost, with a prime location considered less important than gaining space at a good price. While just over half (58 percent) of bosses said a premium business location was important, low cost was a key factor for 78 percent.

Bosses at small and micro businesses saw the least value in being located in a premium business location, with it being an important factor for just 35 percent and 57 percent respectively. Location was deemed to be important by leaders at 84 percent of medium and 75 percent of large businesses.

Technology tops the table of great workplace contributors


Business leaders said that the quality of internet connectivity was the most significant component of a great workplace, being important for 93 percent of bosses surveyed. Connectivity was particularly important at small and medium sized businesses, where 100 percent and 98 percent of respondents respectively considered it important. Fast and efficient IT systems were also considered important by 91 percent of all business leaders surveyed and 95 percent of those running large organisations.

Other factors seen as particularly important in a great working environment included the quality of the lighting (89 percent), ventilation (89 percent), heating/cooling systems (87 percent) and furniture. A sturdy desk and comfortable chair were important for 87 percent of bosses surveyed.

Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director of Beaming, said: “The leaders of British businesses are highly pragmatic when it comes to shaping their workplaces. They value comfort, good systems, a great connection to the outside world and the ability to get things done with a minimum of fuss. The downside of this practicality is that some businesses could miss out on the breakthroughs which arise through experimentation and collaboration, so even the most practical workplaces should find opportunities to test, learn and get their people talking to each other more often.”

Nikki Gatenby, author of SUPERENGAGEDa guide to creating a highly-engaged workforce, said: “We are a function of our environment, so as leaders we should be creating the space for our teams to think, to connect and to collaborate. This is essential for creativity to flow. In the modern workplace, in our knowledge economy, creative ideas and innovation are not simply a nice to have, they are the foundations of business and essential for survival.“

“We live in a world of distraction, drenched in cortisol, attempting to check our emails all the time. We all need time out to unplug and reset, but when we come back online, we need everything to be working as efficiently and effectively as possible to support collaboration and engagement.”

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What makes a great workplace

‘If the internet goes down we can’t operate, we need to have systems that work and if people don’t invest in their systems, they’re not investing in their people’
Nikki Gatenby, Managing Director, Propellernet

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