The elephant in the office

There is a supplement out with today’s Guardian, an annual report called Great Workplaces which is produced by Great Place to Work. I have a few issues with this. The winner is Admiral Group, the financial services and insurance group. Also featured are McDonald’s restaurants, Pokerstars, and KFC UK & Ireland. I always feel that these companies have to make their working conditions good, because it is everything but the work that makes people want to be there. Whether it is the package, the prospect of promotion or a feeling of importance that keeps people there, it is unlikely to be the work itself….

Not surprisingly, there are no architects on the list.The nearest one gets to creativity are some advertising and media companies (plus Microsoft which may be a very interesting place to work). And from another angle, the nearest approach to our industry comes from Autodesk, which sells CAD and BIM to a huge proportion of the architectural community.

Architects are not the easiest of employers, although some make a real effort. But their staff are not there for the welcome packages, the onsite swimming pool or the dedicated pensions manager, all of which feature in the survey. Some architects may be attracted more by the IKEA approach, which donates its waste for ‘innovative repurposing’. But the reason happy architects are happy is because of the work they do. And many of them of course also work in great offices. Which is my other beef. So much thought and effort goes into the best office design, to make it attractive, effective and inspirational, yet it receives no mention here. Is it really so irrelevant?





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