British offices are the coldest and ugliest in the world, according to an Ipsos poll of 12,000 people, which found that employees in the UK feel uncomfortable, uninspired and unable to concentrate at work.
Almost one in five UK workers would describe their office as cold, the highest response from a study across 17 countries, while 13pc think their workplace is ugly, almost twice as high as the global average.
Ipsos polled 12,000 people on behalf of Steelcase, the workplace solutions provider, to discover how office settings can affect workplace engagement.
Nearly three in 10 Britons complained that their workspace was “impersonal”, higher than the worldwide average of 18pc, while just 15pc said they would describe the atmosphere as “convivial”, compared to a global norm of 25pc.
Overall, a third of British workers said they disliked their work environment.
The study linked the UK’s subpar workforce engagement and satisfaction to the prevalence of open-plan offices, the high number of nomadic workers, and the overcrowding of offices, exacerbated by hefty real estate costs, particularly in London.
Half of British workplaces are open plan – more than double the global average and the highest level in the study – which disrupts concentration and inhibits relaxation, the study said.
UK employees’ ability to physically change postures throughout the day, work in teams without being interrupted and concentrate easily on the task in hand were all considerably below the global average, as was their sense of belonging to the company and their likelihood of feeling relaxed and calm at work.
“Our research has consistently shown that the most engaged workers are those who have autonomy over how and where they work, whether adjusting the temperature, lighting, or workspace to suit their needs,” said Christine Congdon, director of global research communication at Steelcase.
“When people feel like they have choice and control over various aspects of their physical work environment, it leads to greater satisfaction overall.”
As 45pc of British respondents said they were dissatisfied with the room temperature in their workspace – more than in any other country – the research found that only 39pc were able to adjust their office temperature.
Similarly, a third of UK workers were unhappy with the light levels at work, with just 21pc able to alter the settings.
“Everybody is different and personal preference will depend on an individual’s natural physiology, their mood on a particular day and the task they are working on,” Ms Congdon said.
“To cater to these constantly changing needs, employers should pay more attention to providing a range of working environments, including the ability to adjust workspace basics as required.”