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Businesses spend billions every year trying to make their employees happy. The current consensus, if you believe what you read and see on LinkedIn and Instagram, is that a happy office is one stacked with free snacks, hammocks, beanbags and table football, despite the risk that most of it will eventually ends up in storage.

But is the culture of quirky perks a waste of money? Or worse, an inhibitor to true workplace effectiveness?




most people hate beanbags


Professor Sir Cary Cooper is an American-born British psychologist and one of the world’s leading authorities on health and wellbeing in the workplace.

He is currently professor of organisational psychology & health at the ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

He believes businesses could be wasting money every month on meaningless gestures instead of focusing on culture. He spoke before on the issue, urging businesses to put meaningful benefits above colourful furniture and office toys.

Cary was once again kind enough to advise Kiwi Movers on some of the best techniques for organising office layouts and common mistakes to avoid.

His strongest recommendation was to eliminate needless distractions, such as noisy coffee machines (get a pod-based machine instead) and to avoid wasting money on “quirky perks” like games, wacky furniture and office toys.

He advises businesses to focus on a layout that fosters RELEVANT collaboration while ensuring screen privacy.

In support of Professor Cooper’s office layout analysis, we surveyed 1,000 office workers from a range of industries to discover which factors influence their workplace contentment. The results were quite surprising.

74% say having their screen visible to the office causes them some degree of anxiety.

Professor Cooper recommends arranging desks so no screen is pointing directly toward the middle of the office and to avoid positioning desks that force people to have their backs to entrances or areas with high foot traffic.

“Screen privacy is hugely important to productivity”

desk privacy Our study also found that personal space is a big deal for office workers. 80% say the feel more comfortable and work better when the desk next to theirs is empty, regardless of how far away it is.

63% say natural light is important to them and that if they had the choice, they’d sit in a spot that gave them an unobstructed view of the outside, regardless of the view.

The most important things to have in any office

The study also revealed the benefits office workers value the most. The theme here is that employees value simple, convenient additions to their office, rather than things that are deemed to be fun or otherwise beneficial in an esoteric way.

  1. Lockable storage
  2. Fresh drinking water
  3. Comfortable, adjustable furniture
  4. Hand sanitiser
  5. Showers