EDITORIAL: Working on different premises

EDITORIAL: Working on different premises - Martian landing in Middle Britain on a mid-week evening might suspect that, as a nation, we suffer from an obsession about property that verges on a clinical mania. As the little green man from the red planet peered through our front windows he would note with interest that every other television programme in that precious mid-evening, prime-time slot is either about buying houses, performing makeovers on them, how to do their gardens up, how to sell them again or even how to buy one in France or Spain. Then he would observe that the magazine racks next to the telly were filled with estate agents' rags and interiors magazines. And, of course, if a dinner party were going on, our Martian would overhear those interminable conversations about house prices.

by Matthew Gwyther, Editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Martian landing in Middle Britain on a mid-week evening might suspect that, as a nation, we suffer from an obsession about property that verges on a clinical mania. As the little green man from the red planet peered through our front windows he would note with interest that every other television programme in that precious mid-evening, prime-time slot is either about buying houses, performing makeovers on them, how to do their gardens up, how to sell them again or even how to buy one in France or Spain. Then he would observe that the magazine racks next to the telly were filled with estate agents' rags and interiors magazines. And, of course, if a dinner party were going on, our Martian would overhear those interminable conversations about house prices.

What intrigued us at MT was whether this passionate interest in the built environment extends from the homes in which we live to the constructions in which we work. That is why we set about the MT Workspace Satisfaction survey.

Bearing in mind that, after wages, property costs are normally the largest incurred by most companies, we suspected that many firms neglect their obligation to accommodate their employees properly - even though good design of the working environment is known to have a profound and positive impact on staff morale and efficiency at work. What we found in a nutshell was that people's awareness and expectation of good working conditions were not being met by their employers. Almost half those we polled said they'd consider changing firms - with an identical position and the same salary and benefits - for vastly superior accommodation. That is quite startling. Nowadays, managers have the same level of expectations of their work environment as they do their home.

While many of the advertising and communications agencies in his global empire are housed in swanky offices, Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP head office in London's Mayfair is famously modest. The subject of this month's profile operates from a tiny converted mews house where you walk in via the back door.

Sorrell is an estimable and enduring individual who in recent years has earned the status of oracle, pronouncing on our economic fortunes - north London's answer to Alan Greenspan. If, in addition to his skills in predicting the recovery of the world economy over the next few tricky years, Sir Martin and his crystal ball discover an ability to tell us what our houses will be worth in 12 months' time, he'd earn fame beyond his wildest dreams.

And maybe even a place on the only prime-time programme not devoted to property - I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!.

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