Do Cool Offices Provide More Employee Motivation? You might think so. Obviously the best offices tend to have ergonomic chairs, a ball pit, a water cooler and lots of inspirational art work. Anything less and you may as well pack up your unicycle and roll out. We jest.

But can an office that is just plain dull ever inspire and motivate employees? Do we even need offices? We take a look at the common arguments in the space.

Do We Need An Office? 

Whether it’s Marissa Mayer and her infamous ban on remote work or the fact that the biggest brands in the world still have office spaces – there’s something about that work environment we can’t shake. The biggest companies in the world all have a base. That doesn’t mean that employees aren’t incredibly motivated, driven and committed. The financial sector is an example of a workplace that would struggle to go remote, whatever tech came around.

However, on the flipside, take Buffer. They not only started flexible working, but eventually, they removed their whole place of work. You don’t need a physical space to work for most careers and the benefits of employees not commuting, rushing to get home, impacting their health. Virtual working is cheaper for not only the employer but the employee.  There’s also no need to go black or white. What about an element of flexibility in work and the working environment?

What about work from home technology? 

We’ve all suffered at the hands of tech failures. An office has to be more conducive to great meetings and engagement on one hand. There is no denying that being face to face can be much more conducive to great work.

At the same time – have you ever sat in a meeting and wished you could be anywhere else – or sat at a desk phoning it in because you can’t leave before 6pm? Could office space be hindering our greatest assets – our attention and our motivation?

If we do have an office – wouldn’t the cash also be better in pockets instead of on perks? 

If we’re being honest, how much cash that is assigned to employee perks is re-assigned into the employee’s pocket if the ideas is abandoned? This is a reductionist argument we bring out when we feel upset that some companies spend money on perks. Everyone likes a comfy sofa, a game to play on, some herbal teas and free lunches. Where is the harm? It’s also worth noting that it’s the small things in life that really wind us up. The watercooler that sputters all over your trousers. The seat that hurts your back, the naff mouse mats and unbranded cups. Office space isn’t just the room but the whole experience and by installing benefits and careful thought, you get back a sense of pride and therefore, motivation.

However – do employees need these treats to be motivated and feel pride? The ping pong table has quickly gone from a status symbol of a great place to work through to something that is suspected of representing ‘bread and circuses’. Brands like Google, Twitter and Skype have all set that bar for what an office looks like, but the fact is that it is only with the back to basics motivational tools and employee benefits offerings that you can really reinvigorate employee motivation.  What do employees really get motivated by in your office and your culture? A bean bag isn’t the answer to all your issues.

According to a survey, conducted by storage firm Kiwi Movers, which found that 86 percent of UK adults who work in an office said fun features were of no specific value to their working life, 11 percent said they were nice-to-have and of some value and 3 percent said they were very valuable. The most popular office perks are those offer an immediate tangible benefit to the employee, but even so, as many as 23 percent don’t take advantage every day; while 71 percent overall said they’d like more space in their office and of those, 58 percent believe that could be achieved by removing non-essential items. The research also found that younger workers were more likely on average to take advantage of ‘environmental’ perks like chill out areas and recreational equipment.
Occupational health expert, Sir Cary Cooper CBE, professor of organisational psychology & health at the ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, believes some companies are missing the point when it comes to offering office perks.

“Businesses often confuse perks with culture. Providing recreational spaces and a fun environment are not the same as establishing a positive culture that makes employees happy, improves retention rates and increases output. There’s a growing trend for businesses to promote their superficial perks, such as welcome packs, free breakfast and ‘fun’ office spaces as if it’s a sign of a positive culture, but it really isn’t. Cool furniture is nothing more than a nice-to-have bonus and businesses should be wary of focusing on it at the expense of genuine culture.

“Anyone can order a few hammocks and beanbags from Amazon, but it takes years of hard work, research and commitment to values to establish a meaningful workplace culture.”


Where do you stand on the great office debate?