By Penny Hinton

Not leaving the office, taking shorter lunch breaks and working harder to cover staff shortages are some of the ways that office workers are responding to pressures at work, according to a survey from Business Environment (BE), the leading serviced office provider.

The survey asked 3000 UK office workers about their working conditions and attitudes: it revealed that 31% had felt pressure to work harder and take shorter lunch breaks because of the current economic climate or due to staff cuts: amongst graduate trainees, this figure rose to 43%. Over half of those surveyed (56%) said they took less than 30 minutes for lunch, and almost one in five (18%) said that they usually worked through their lunch break. The survey highlighted some considerable differences across industry sectors: 38% of respondents in the banking and insurance sector enjoyed an hour’s break, whilst 35% of those in the catering industry said they never took a lunch hour.

It also appears that most UK workers fail to claim back the expenses that they incur in office time. 60% said they did not claim back money that they had spent on team drinks: 50% of employees in the promotions, charity and travel/leisure sectors didn’t claim back the cost of taxi fares that they had used for work. Most workers (58%) said that they didn’t make an expenses claim because they had lost the receipts or didn’t make time to complete a claim form. Interestingly, almost 42% of the respondents said they had not made a claim because they had no clear explanation of what was eligible and how to make a claim from their employers.

Whilst some employees may not claim the expenses owed to them, the survey also showed that many had no concerns about using office facilities for personal use. 71% thought it acceptable to use an office phone to make personal calls (rising to 84% among the legal sector and 90% for the PR, marketing and advertising industries). Using the Internet for personal use (particularly for online shopping) whilst at work was regarded as acceptable by 54% of the survey’s participants.

It also seems that using the Internet to look for a new job during working hours is part of the office life. Over 60% said they would do so, but only during lunchtime — or if their boss couldn’t see what they were doing. However, 38% thought that it was just too risky and wouldn’t consider it at all.

Business Environment’s marketing manager, Steve Moore who commissioned the survey commented:

The survey has produced some real insights into the challenges facing UK business today. It’s apparent that the current economic climate is already having an impact on some employees who are now working longer and harder as a result.

Interestingly, in recent months, we’ve noticed that more clients are taking advantage of the free fruit baskets at our centres and we’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of our clients giving their employees membership of our on-site gym facilities. As a result, we’re will be looking to add gym facilities at more of our locations this year.

Steve also commented that BE planned to repeat the survey in six months’ time and again at the end of this year. “It will be fascinating to compare results from the three surveys” he said, adding “I’m very much looking forward to seeing how organisations meet these challenges, the impact they have on their employees and finding out which industry sectors that have adapted most effectively”.

About Business Environment

Business Environment is the leading owner and provider of flexible serviced offices in Southern England. It owns and operates approaching up to 1,000,000ft2 of property and caters for small to large companies demanding competitive and flexible office accommodation. Its success is the result of providing clients with exceptional value together with excellent service. For further information, go to www.beoffices.com

In 2010 Business Environment won the coveted Business Centre of the Year award from the Business Centre Association (BCA) for the fourth time in five years - www.bca.co.uk. Business Environment is also a finalist in The National Customer Service Awards 2010.

*The survey was conducted by OnePoll for Business Environment amongst 3000 UK office workers across multiple industry sectors.

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