Image: Derek Gavey
Image: Derek Gavey

Being fearless in taking risks is good for you, according to new research from Kaspersky Lab, with a third of UK consumers agreeing that they would be further up the career ladder if they had taken more risks in the workplace. But in a culture more inclined to err on the side of caution, taking a risk is still seen as a negative trait by nearly a third of Brits.


Whilst risk-taking can mean different things to different people, taking the plunge in whatever form is full of anxiety and dread. The survey of 2,000 UK adults into their attitude to taking risks, both in person and online, found that for those that do, the rewards can far outweigh the uncertainty. But for half (54 per cent) of those surveyed, there have been moments in their life where they wished they had taken a risk but didn’t. 45 per cent also agreed that they don’t take enough risks in life.

For Leon Ifayemi, co-founder of SPCE – a company and property rental mobile application – taking a risk on his future career was the best decision he ever made; “I built up my experience and contact base and eventually took the ultimate risk – I quit my job to start my own company. Not being cash rich, we couldn’t afford to pay for all the roles we required so my entire team of 20 decided to take a risk of their own, by agreeing to have their salaries subsidized with equity. This was testament to the strength of our proposition and people’s commitment to our vision, despite the risks we faced.”

Despite one in ten UK adults saying they are prepared to take more risks online than in real life, face-to-face still prevails for those wanting to take a risk to get ahead in the workplace. When approaching someone directly for a job (34 per cent), asking for a pay rise (40 per cent) or singing your own praises to your boss (29 per cent), doing it in person is the favored option to get the best results.

However, despite the research suggesting people feel that taking risks is a good thing, over a third (39 per cent) felt that our society is too risk adverse and 30 per cent think that taking risks is seen as a negative trait.

Kathleen Saxton, psychotherapist and founder of Psyched Global agrees; “The word ‘risk’ comes with lots of negative connotations which is such a shame. As a nation, we have become far more risk adverse over the past couple of decades. As news becomes more immediately accessible, we have a real sense of what’s going on in the world and that can concern us – our awareness is greater, which sadly sometimes means we are warier of risk-taking. This could be stopping us having some of the experiences and the adventures that we could if we were a bit more willing to take a risk.

We should think about taking appropriate risk – rather than not taking any risks at all. You have to place some bets, you have to make some decisions, you have to take some chances in order to move forward. Risk should be seen as a positive thing.”

“The online world empowers people – giving them a confidence that they don’t have in the face-to-face world. 16 per cent of the people we surveyed said they were more confident online than they would be in person,” adds David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. People often say that it’s better to regret something you’ve done rather than something you haven’t. Taking risks is a good thing and people shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there – and the role that the online world plays in making things happen. But whilst taking risks is good, this is not the same thing as being reckless and no one should let their guard down online – it’s vital to secure the moves you make online in the pursuit of success.”

The research was conducted in November 2017 by Arlington Research for Kaspersky Lab. 2,000 UK adults were interviewed about their attitudes towards risk taking, both online and in person.