An insight on why drab offices puts off UAE workers

An insight on why drab offices puts off UAE workersImage Credit: Supplied

Blame it on the all that grey furniture — UAE's office workers are losing out on productivity by being stuck in drab office environments. This is despite the fact that more of them are spending putting in even longer hours at their work terminals than they used to five years ago.

More alarmingly still, a third of the respondents in a survey suggested that poor work environment was a direct cause for lower motivation and forcing them to look to alternates such as doing so from home. This was based on findings commissioned by the US workplace design firm, Herman Miller.

It gets worse — the survey also had 88 per cent of respondents end up wasting time daily trying to find a vacant meeting room. And that one in ten of them could take more than 30 minutes daily in finding one — that adds up to an entire work day for each month.

As many as 45 per cent of male workers are able to concentrate at their desks for less than an hour before requiring a break, while their women counterparts could do so for a three-hour stretch.

While no one expects UAE companies to set up Silicon Valley ambient office environments any time soon, specialist firms are doing their bit to help.

Herman Miller hopes to come up with some of the solutions for local employers through a brand new 'design centre' at Dubai's Marina Plaza. There it is showcasing the 'Living Office' model, which it believes can help remove all of the drabness clogging up enthusiasm levels in an office.

''What we have designed is a system of parts which can then be configured in a large number of ways suitable for our clients' needs,'' said Brian Walker, CEO. ''The real genius lies in how these can be applied across platforms. There could be unique needs but what the design centre does is give us the ability to offer technical modifications where necessary.''

The last 12 to 18 months has seen an upturn in new offices being set up in Dubai, with new businesses leading the way in picking up commercial space. Several existing office tenants have also gone in for new — and large sized — space occupation where possible. Another solid year is being projected for office take-up rates.

Apart from offering its solutions for offices, the health care space in the UAE is what interests Herman Miller quite a bit. The design facility should open a few doors in that regard, according to Walker.

That would work in favour of Herman Miller and its kind. The firm sources the bulk of its merchandise from owned facilities in the US and also from Europe. ''We operate a large supply base, and the (changes in the) euro have not been a big enough driver for us,'' said Walker. ''And we typically don't make out logistics and distribution arrangements based on a currency.''

At the broader level, Walker is bullish about this year fitting out well — ''The US is quite strong at the moment with office take-up rates.''

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Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor,

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