Profit-eating office spaces

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Businesses with uncomfortable chairs may want to reconsider how long they hold out on switching furniture. Turns out, those hard-on-the-back seats may also be eating into company profits.

More than 350 employees work in Google's Kirkland facility, which includes amenities such as a climbing wall, gym and soda fountain, and consolidates several offices throughout Kirkland. © Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

That uncomfortable meeting room chair may not just be the cause of your sore back - it could even harm your company's profits.

The Office Exhibition, which is a design show held in the Middle East, teamed up with YouGov to survey 1,172 chief executives and directors from across the Middle East and North Africa region to look at how the appearance of a supplier's office affects procurement decisions.

The survey found that untidy, smelly or poorly designed offices cost companies an average of Dh2 million in revenue - but failed to specify over what period of time.

The vast majority of those surveyed - 85 per cent - said they would be concerned about a company's professionalism if the office did not look respectable.

Other concerns included dirty or untidy offices, cited by 70 per cent of people; unpleasant smells, a concern of 66 per cent of those surveyed; and noise, chaos and cheap or outdated decor, which were highlighted by around half of the executives who took part.

Uncomfortable or inappropriate seating in meeting rooms or the reception, as well as substandard technology followed closely behind in terms of concerns among those surveyed.

If you often find yourself itching to get out of a meeting, there may be good reason.

More than two-thirds of respondents said they find themselves wanting to leave a meeting early because of uncomfortable seating, while 56 per cent admitted that they avoid meeting at someone's place of work if they did not like their office.

In the Middle East there has been a great focus on the exterior of buildings, says Cheryl Durst, executive vice president and chief executive of the International Interior Design Association.

"You have brilliant and interesting and well designed buildings" she says. "I think now, though, there is more of a focus on what the interiors look like".

The environment inside an office is an extension of the company's brand.

"If you are projecting a sloppy, messy extension interior, that speaks to your brand as a company as well," she adds.

gduncan@thenational.ae