What office workers want from their employers

Posted by HLD 23 JANUARY 2019

In our previous blog, "Being inactive is as dangerous as smoking", we pointed out the effects that inactivity is having on individuals, with it being said that sedentary lifestyles (such as working in an office) can be just as, if not more, harmful to your health than smoking.

The fact that it’s regarded as being on par with smoking left us taken aback, and that got us thinking about just how much of our time at work is spent at our desks.

The concept of sitting at a desk all day is something alien to us, despite being predominantly office based. At Home Leisure Direct head office, we’re blessed with an Aladdin’s Cave of games room equipment that we’re all able to utilise during our breaks. We host regular pool and table tennis competitions to help with team-building (not to mention fostering a bit of friendly competitiveness), while we also get to enjoy the equipment when it first comes in to help us get to grips with our offering from a customer service point of view.

However, not all workplaces are so fortunate. We supply equipment to many businesses looking to provide a recreational breakout area for their employees, but the fact is there are many more businesses out there that don’t offer any kind of breakout facility at all.

To try and understand just how widespread office breakout areas are, we decided to conduct our own research to help glean some insight. But rather than focusing exclusively on breakout areas, we were keen to use the opportunity to gain some wider understanding of general office health and wellbeing, and what workers felt was important to them in regard to their working environment.

With that in mind, we commissioned a research company to carry out a study, surveying 2,000 UK-based employees (across a variety of industries and a broad geographical spread) to garner their opinion and to establish the current landscape around office breakout areas.

Within the study we asked respondents questions about whether their office had a breakout area, and – if not – whether they thought an office breakout would be a useful addition to their workspace, and what kind of additions they wanted to see from their employers if so.

Alongside the breakout questions, more generic employee health and wellbeing questions were also asked, which helped us to produce a rounded picture.

With respondents split equally between the sexes, and across a mix of ages, the survey initially looked at how much time within the working day was spent sitting down. The responses revealed that a third (32%) spent over 80% of their time at work sitting down, while a further 28% spent more than 60%.

Only 3% spent less than 20% of their time off their feet, with a further 12.5% estimating to spending between 20% and 40% of their time at work sitting.

The next question looked at the prevalence of office breakout areas. Over half (57.5%) of those who took part told us that their workplace didn’t have one, while 42.5% did – which was actually a higher percentage than we anticipated.

Of those workplaces that did have a breakout area, the most common forms of equipment in place were pool tables (42.8%), table tennis (32.8%) and foosball tables (24.5%), with respondents allowed to select more than one answer to this question.

Those workers who didn’t have access to a breakout area were asked if they would like one, to which a huge 70% said that ‘yes’ they would. When questioned as to the kind of equipment they would like to see in their offices, the top two choices reflected the most popular options for existing breakout areas; pool tables (42.7%) and table tennis tables (27.5%).

Given that both table tennis and pool offer a much-needed break from screen time, it’s not surprising that these are amongst the most popular options. A further question in our study asked about concern around the effect of prolonged screen time on respondents’ eyesight. This revealed that 70.8% were worried their eyesight would worsen through too much screen-time – making table tennis or pool the perfect opportunity for a purposeful break.

Amidst the questioning around existing office breakout areas, we also posed the question “Do you think company management care about the environment you work in?” to which an astonishing 51% said “No.” Given that businesses are increasingly obligated to offer support around their employees’ wellbeing, the fact one in two employees don’t think management care really is an eye-opening statistic for us.

This perceived lack of care for the working environment from employers wasn’t reflected by employees, however, with a whopping 65% admitting that they would consider switching employers to join another that had a better office environment – a statistic that serves to underline the importance of workplace conditions on staff morale and employee health and wellbeing.

Despite a slight majority of employees thinking management don’t care about their working environment, office breakouts are becoming an increasingly popular investment for businesses, thanks to their positive effect on staff’s physical and mental health, as well as general happiness.

Those whose office already has a breakout area told us that the benefits of having something as simple as a pool or table tennis table increased team building (44.4%) and motivation (37.1%), while also reducing stress (42.2%) as well as increasing their productivity levels when they get back to work (35.9%).

Improved productivity is something that Andy Beresford, Managing Director here at Home Leisure Direct, can testify to: “Our guys here in our main office have access to all of our games products on a daily basis. Whether it’s a quick game of table tennis, or a spin on one of our arcades, it’s always noticeable how rejuvenated they are after taking a break.

Other questions within the study established that 69% of respondents ate lunch at their desks, while most employees (67.5%) spend up to 40 hours a week at work, and cite that lack of time in their lives is the biggest reason for not being able to exercise as much as they would like to. With a table tennis table available to them, employees would be able to have a form of exercise that they could access within their workplace, utilising lunch breaks to get at least the recommended 30 minutes exercise per day – with regular exercise noted for increasing overall happiness, while also improving productivity at work. One report suggests that a mere 5 minutes per hour could have a significant impact on an individual’s health, and urges employees to take frequent and regular breaks away from their desks.

Last year we ran a guinea pig test to examine this theory on two of our own employees; Jess from our Marketing Department and Ben our Operations Manager. Both were hooked up to calorie-counting fitness trackers and spent half an hour on each of our games room products to find out just how much of a workout this would give them.

Unsurprisingly it was table tennis which topped the bill, with 30 minutes of table tennis at lunch burning an average of 227 calories between the two of them – almost as much as the recommended 1 hour’s brisk walk would burn! Even sitting at an arcade machine for half an hour burned almost half of the total calories of a walk, meaning that staff would only need to take a half an hour walk during the day to top it up.

Check out the full results of our test in our video below:

We’ve seen an increase in businesses adding a variety of games room equipment to their breakout areas over the last year through our installations, and know first-hand the benefits that they can reap on a company workforce.

If you think your staff would benefit from new games room equipment, or if your business is thinking of setting up an office breakout area, we can provide you with a wide range of cool products. From pool tables and arcades, to pinballs and table tennis tables - we’ve got something to suit everybody’s needs!

Get in touch with our commercial property games room department today to talk about what best suits the requirements of your company.

Further Resources: 

News Week - Office working is as bad as smoking study

Home Leisure Direct - Office working is as dangerious as smoking blog

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