One IT company in Manchester is defying the business norm by transforming its offices into a worker’s paradise, complete with indoor gardens and bean bags.
Google led the way with the early-naughties rage for fun, stimulating office-spaces with slides instead of stairs, tropical jungle huts and indoor ski lifts. Innocent smoothies followed suit with its London office covered in astro-turf, park benches and bare-foot workers.
When the recession hit, many companies thought play-time was over and priorities would revert back to business and away from frivolities. But these companies were wrong: play-time was only just beginning.
According to a study by Ambius in 2009, 25% of U.S workers believed their current place of work was gloomy and depressing, and 62% said they would feel more motivated at work if their office space was more stimulating.
This research was supported by a Univeristy of Exeter PhD thesis, which found that enriched work environments boosted employee productivity by 15%. In addition, permitting workers to have a say in how the office was designed increased productivity by 30%.
This suggested that Google had it right all along- spending money on quirky office features wasn’t about showing off or being frivolous. It was a form of investment, a valuable asset.
Daniel Keighron-Foster, the entrepreneur who runs the Manchester-based ‘Melbourne’, told Guardian reporter Mr Smedley: “We reckon we’ve spent about 30% more because of all the additional detail, which is about £130,000 as opposed to the £100,000 we would have spent.” However, the benefits of a stimulating work environment far outweigh the immediate financial losses. The 29-year-old entrepreneur claims to have job applications from employees of his far more conservative competitors, which to him ‘says it all’.
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