We're in The Times!

Posted by HLD 07 FEBRUARY 2019

We’re in The Times!

“Great!” you might think. And so did we. At least at first.

However, we swiftly realised that our brand mention in last week’s paper, rather than casting us in a positive light, was actually mocking a recent survey that we’d commissioned looking into office workers’ opinion on their workspace.

Our ‘yay’ changed to ‘hey’ quite quickly, with sad faces all round.

The Times, or more specifically, Alistair Osborne at The Times, thought our survey was ridiculous. Highlighting that, “Quelle surprise” the study had revealed “One in two office workers, don’t believe management care about their working environment”, with many wanting a “breakout area” to make things just that little bit better. The ‘surprise’ bit was, obviously that – low and behold – we’re a “supplier of specialist games room equipment.”

Now, the good news is that Alistair, as opposed to taking the survey at headline value and merely dismissing it, did actually dig a little deeper and look at the blog on our website summarising the wider results (well, we’re presuming he must have done to know about the breakout area element – as it wasn’t mentioned in the release we sent him) before then covering it with an exasperated nib.

OK, we hold our hands up at this point and say, “Fair play, Guv,” you’ve rumbled us. There is a vested interest in us doing the study. Ideally, we’d love the clamour for an office breakout area to be so loud that every employer would be beating down our showroom doors (the largest in Europe, fyi), desperate to buy a table tennis table to fend off hordes of ping pong starved employees, demanding access to a lunch time game.

Sadly, that isn’t the case...and to be fair, we hope that never will be, as it all sounds a little too apocalyptic for our taste, on reflection.

What we did want though, is to find out a little more about employee opinion – and if it shows there’s an appetite for lunchtime ping pong, then, “Hey, all the better for us, let’s highlight this to the relevant business press to see if they’re interested.”

Alistair clearly wasn’t too impressed. And we certainly get why. He’s no doubt inundated with all sorts of ridiculous surveys (with many likely simply made up) so just plucked ours out of the pile. In all honesty then, we’re actually pleased he did, even if he was taking the proverbial out of us! A mention in The Times isn’t to be sniffed at, even if they’re sniffing at us.

The research was though, carried out by an independent research company, which canvassed authentic office workers’ opinion. OK, yes, we admit that the line of questioning was geared towards breakout areas specifically – but that’s because that’s what we wanted to know. After all, it’s what we do, and where we can help.

The findings are genuine, all the same, even if breakout areas have a heavy focus.

And who would commission research in an area where they had no interest? Would a surface repair company be sounding out sensibilities on the ethicality of foie gras? We think not!*

The mention was picked up on Twitter by Merryn Somerset Webb, Editor in chief of Moneyweek, no less, who pointed out that what workers really want is more money and more holiday. Now, that’s fair enough – we absolutely agree with that, Merryn. However, even if your workforce only works 8 months a year and all earn £100k, an agreeable, engaging office space is conducive to both improved wellbeing and better productivity, regardless.

It’s possible to improve working conditions in other areas, not just by boosting pay and holiday, after all. So, a brief plug to all employers: breakout areas are great for teambuilding, reduced screen time and improving physical activity, and we’ve got all the things you need, right here.

Our personal highlight of this (admittedly minor) episode though was a post from another user on Twitter (@nigmaticus) who, commenting on Merryn’s post, said:

"The lack of ping pong represents all that's wrong with society today."

A simply magnificent strapline, which we’re going to run with going forward.

*“Hello, now there’s an idea!” said the surface repair specialist.

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