By Daniel Hunter

Dull and demotivating workplaces are holding back business-critical creativity, according to a new report from fit out and refurbishment specialist, Overbury.

The study finds that workers consider idea generation crucial to their employer’s performance — but feel unable to work creatively together in their offices.

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

Half (50%) 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%) of UK offices lacking common or social areas.

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

Anthony Brown, sales and marketing director at Overbury, comments: “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.”

The findings, from fit out and refurbishment specialist Overbury, are based on opinion research among 2,000 office-based employees from across the UK.

Creative Block

A vast number of employees are dissatisfied with their offices, according to Overbury’s research.

More than a third (36%) find their office demotivating, while a quarter (25%) describe it as “sedate and silent”. Almost one in ten (8%) 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%) of UK office workers say that they get on well with their co-workers and almost two thirds (61%) feel that their best ideas arise from impromptu conversations with colleagues. More than a quarter (27%) of employees state that they are at their most creative when talking informally to people around the office.

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

Anthony Brown comments: “It is great news for UK organisations that office workers are extremely positive about their working relationships.

“However, 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.”

Common Ground

So what do employees most want to change about their offices?

According to UK workers, the ‘top five’ positive steps companies can take to boost creativity in their office are:

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

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