Why Smart Businesses Are Focusing On Employee Happiness

In recent years, there has been a distinct trend in workplaces leaning towards being more human-centric. Trends designed to encourage collaboration and interaction like the open office; workplaces with bean bags and sofas to promote happiness at work.

Businesses like Google and Facebook are renown for having lavish offices that could be mistaken as theme parks, often elaborately decorated and complete with fancy toys like slides.

The question is: what’s driving these trends? More importantly, is there any benefit to them or are they just clever marketing tactics?

In a world obsessed with social media, where each aspect of everyday life is an opportunity for Instagram and everything is under pressure to be picture perfect, it’s easy to dismiss these offices as pandering. Or worse, compensating. After all, having a photogenic office does not make your office a fun or successful place to work . . . But it can make your office look fun and successful, which, as per social media culture, can seem just as important. Plus, it’s a way for companies to get featured on “Top 10 Coolest Offices In The World” lists and go viral.

That being said, the rise of human-centric design is by no means a fad or parlour trick. These businesses may be savvy on the marketing aspect of their excessive designs – but, first and foremost, they’re meeting the needs of their most important target audience: their employees. 

Workers Don’t Want Slides And Ball Pits

Expedia is a prime example of a business getting it right; routinely listed on the aforementioned “cool office” lists, Expedia’s London office boasts table tennis, football, gaming consoles and a cocktail bar. Knowing this, it likely comes as no surprise that in 2016 and 2017 Expedia was Glassdoor’s highest rated place to work (based on employee satisfaction). What may be surprising…

86% of UK employees surveyed said fun office features are of no value to them. 25% find certain features annoying. – Source

If employees’ happiness isn’t being impacted by office additions such as ball pits and gaming areas, what makes Expedia such a good place to work? They focus on what employees actually want.

Expedia employees aren’t happy because of all the office’s fancy bells and whistles; the most common praise is in fact for “culture” and “career opportunities”. Instead of focusing their efforts solely on creating an Instagram worthy workplace full of amenities people are considered to want, they focused on the things that people have actually been proven to want.

What Do Workers Want?

Fortunately (from a business perspective, at least) what employees actually want is less planning-permission-required, up-in-the-clouds slides and more down to earth.

In 2016 , a Society for Human Resource Management study discovered some of the things employees value most are:

  • Pay
  • Prospects
  • Feeling respected
  • Trust

In terms of additional benefits, slides and gaming consoles still don’t rank very highly on employees priority list. The kind of perks people actually want, according to Harvard Business Review’s study, are:



Why Are Businesses Focusing On What Employees Want?

Thinking about the working culture of the past, it may be weird to think that businesses are now catering to their employees. After all, employees are paid to be at work – what else is necessary?

For smart businesses, a lot more. 

Happy, satisfied employees are all-round a far better investment for the company. They’re more efficient, more productive and they stay at the company for longer. On top of that, their quality of work is improved too!

Did you know that a report carried out by Oxford Economics found that it costs up to £30k to replace an employee?

Your business is built on your employees’ work – so you want to make sure that they’re working to their optimal capacity.

We hope this article provided you some insight into why smart companies focus on their employee happiness – and why your business should too.

For more business solutions, feel free to take a look at our extensive service list.

Improve Office Culture With These 6 Fun, Professional Additions

In recent years, we have seen a distinct shift in office design – towards fun. Businesses are embracing the human touch; more effort is being expended to improve office culture and cultivate a happier workforce.

There’s legitimate research behind this – happy employees are more productive, they stay at your company longer and have overall better job performance. Considering the average cost of losing an employee can be 6 to 9 months’ salary,  keeping your employees happy makes sense from a business perspective.

Our last post, Why Smart Businesses Are Focusing On Employee Happiness, explored the benefits behind focusing on your employee happiness; today, however, we’re going to be sharing a few ways that you can make your office a more fun environment.

First, though . . . is it worth investing in workplace design to improve office culture?

Yes. In a survey conducted by Management Today, 97% of respondents stated that they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. How valued your employees feel is a big part of your business’s culture.

1. Living wall

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Our first suggestion is a design improvement that has a big impact: the living wall. Living walls are a great way to revitalise your office and reap the very real benefits of having plants in the workplace.

Depending on your budget and the amount of space you have available to use, there are multiple ways that you can incorporate a living wall into your workspace. The first is, as in the photo above, a wall unit made of plants. For a cheaper option and more minimal effect, we like the DIY plant wall approach:

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If you’d like to install a shelf-plant-wall, here at Quills we offer a lot of shelving units that are perfect.

However, living walls aren’t just a design enhancement – having plants in the office has been shown to boost productivity by 15% and plants can improve overall office health and happiness. Not convinced? Here are a few health benefits studies have shown plants to have:

 Neuropsychological symptoms were reduced by 23% when plants were present. Fatigue reduced the most – by 30%

Mucous membrane symptoms were reduced by 24% overall when plants were present. Cough decreased by 37% and dry throat by 25%

Dry or flushed skin was reduced by 23% with plants in the workspace – Source 

For a full post on the benefits of adding plants to the office (and some ideas for how to add them in!) read our post.

2. Pool table

Our next suggestion is something we can vouch for – we have one in our office! A pool table is a great way to provide and encourage accessible fun in the workplace. Plus, it encourages team-building and allows people from different departments to interact. All things that help to improve office culture!

A new study from BrightHR and leading psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper revealed young employees that have fun in the workplace, from belly laughs and birthday celebrations to Xboxes and massages, take less sick leave, work harder and are more productive. – Source

We highly recommend this pool table as it also doubles up as a meeting table…genious! It’s a highly efficient use of space. (Even better, having a game of pool at the end of a meeting is a great way to keep everyone motivated.)

3. Funky desks and office furniture

We’ve already mentioned the importance of office design for employees feeling valued and satisfied at work – but office design can also affect their mood. Boring, drab furniture can leave employees feeling demotivated; bright, engaging colours can leave them feeling inspired.

A great way to improve office culture and bring some fun to the workplace, without losing any professionalism, is to invest in some quirky furniture. The right furniture can liven up the office, while still allowing it to feel like a place of work.

An example of some funky office furniture we’re loving at the moment is this Chemistry Canopy!

This canopy is something a little bit different and creative for your employees to personalise . . . but it’s still professional. If you’d like one of these canopies for your office, send through an enquiry!

Another easy way to add some fun to your office furniture is to play with your colour scheme. We’ve talked about colour in office design in depth; if you’d like to learn about colour psychology and how to use it in the office, feel free to read our post.

4. A vending machine

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If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that the snack bar is the most important part of the office. A vending machine is a fun addition to the office that all your employees will thank you for! (Just remember to keep it stocked.)

5. An office dog (if none of your employees are allergic to them)

Did you know that there are genuine benefits to allowing pets in the office? Interacting with a dog, whether it’s yours or someone else’s, has been proven to reduce stress levels and release the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin.

“The atmosphere in the office is warmer now and more sociable. People will stop you in the corridors to stroke your dog so you start talking to someone in a different part of the company who you’d never normally have spoken to, or have only encountered over email.” – Quote from a Nestlé employee after the offices started allowing pets at work. Source.

Allowing pets in the office or adopting an office dog could be a good way to improve office culture.

6. Living Logo

Our last recommendation is an office favourite of ours – living logos.  

Living logos are fully customisable signs you can use to add some creative branding to your office. These signs are made with real moss; however, a glycerin based fluid that stops any further growth and need the plants have for attention replaces the sap of the plants in the logo. This means that the moss will retain its natural features, but will not grow.

Even better, the logos require absolutely no aftercare or maintenance. Not even sunlight!

Your office culture is essential for keeping your employees happy and satisfied, so we hope you take these suggestions on board! If you’re redesigning your office, but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to take a look at our Quills Interiors website and see if we can help you or take a look at our seating guide and desking guide.

Your Business Needs Encrypted USBs: Stay GDPR compliant in and out of the office

Imagine if a USB with all of Heathrow’s security plans was accidentally dropped on the street and picked up by a random passer-by. What kind of things do you think would be on it? CCTV camera locations, armed-police officer shift patterns, secret entrances . . . the security measures for the queen? All of those things and more. Such a massive breach could be disastrous.

What if we told you it happened last year?

A non-password protected USB containing Heathrow Airport’s security information was found last October containing over 174 confidential files. Maps, plans, videos; details about terrorist attacks and plans in place to stop future ones. Fortunately, the man who discovered the USB handed it into the authorities . . . but what if he hadn’t? What if the wrong person had found it?

Heathrow is the busiest airport in Britain – and the 7th busiest airport in the world. In 2017, there were over 78 million passengers that travelled through Heathrow.

Keeping your data safe, even if it isn’t a matter of national security like Heathrow Airport, is essential. Not only to ensure your clients and employees’ privacy is being upheld – but also to make sure your business remains GDPR compliant.

Businesses know they need to implement security in the office . . . but are companies overlooking the fact that many employees are field based or travel and work on the go.  As you can imagine, losing a USB flash drive full of your clients’ private information would highly violate the GDPR. So how do you keep compliant? Fortunately, there’s an easy way to make sure that your data is protected on the go.

Encrypted USBs

A simple way to protect your files when in transit is to use encrypted USBs. These are USBs that come with built-in encryption software and password protection and will even shut down your laptop if left inactive for a period of time.

Did you know that 66% of SMBs will go out of business or shut down for at least a day after a data breach? This is before the GDPR; with such large fines now in place, how many companies do you think will survive?

Unfortunately, data breaches and cyber attacks are a fact of life in the digital age – and SMBs are a prime target. In fact, 43% of cyber-attacks are aimed at SMBs. Your business needs to be taking as many precautions as possible.

The USB We Recommend: Safexs

Here at Quills, we provide an extensive range of encrypted USBs – but we highly recommend the Safexs range.

Safexs Protector 3.0 has been designed and developed within the EU specifically for government agencies to help reduce costs whilst still maintaining high security requirements. – Safexs website

Designed to be secure enough for government agencies to trust, Safexs USBs are well-equipped to protect your business’s data. Plus, they work with all operating systems, which means that if you’re switching between Macs and PCs, you can still access and protect your documents.

Developed in the EU to be compliant with current and future EU Data Protection Directives

Most importantly, Safexs USB drives were developed to be GDPR compliant. With such harsh penalties for non-compliance (fines of up to 4% of your annual turnover), your business does not want to take any unecessary risks.

Benefits of encrypted flash drives

Encrypted USBs keep your data safe when working remotely or taking files off-site to show clients. However, they don’t stop there!

Note: these benefits are dependent on the model you buy; lower-spec encrypted flash drives may not offer them. If you’re interested in buying a secure USB and would like to better understand the features of each model, feel free to call us and ask a sales representative to ask for further information. Safexs Protector USBs have all of these functionalities.

  • Logging out of inactive machines

How often have you sat down to do some work – only to then get up to make yourself a quick cup of coffee? Or get called outside for a quick meeting? It’s not uncommon to get held up and be away from your computer for longer than you expect during the workday – but password protecting your files is no help if your PC is left open for people to access.

Encrypted flash drives have the ability to lock or turn off machines that have been inactive for a set amount of time; this means that if you get held up having a conversation at the coffee machine, your data is protected.

  • Protects against password guessing

After 10 wrong attempts at guessing the password, the password will reset.

  • Password rescue service

While you want your files to be secure . . . you still want to be able to access them if you forget your password. Fortunately, with Safexs there is safe password recovery that won’t destroy your files.

  • Secure file sharing 

Safexs USBS offer ShareProtect; a portable secure file sharing solution. This allows you to encrypt your device and computer files and share them with colleagues or business partners.

  • Auto-destruct

You can set your flash drive to automatically wipe its content at a set date. You no longer need to worry about having data sitting around for longer than it needs to be.

To conclude, we highly recommend investing in encrypted USBs for your business and employees working remotely or on the go.

If you’d like to purchase some encrypted USBs, feel free to call us at 0845 078 0324 or send an email enquiry to sales@quillsuk.co.uk.

How To Attract Generation Z To Your Office

Move over, millennials, Generation Z is making its way into the workforce.

Born between 1995-2010, Generation Z (also frequently referred to as Digital Natives) are the next big buzzword. Set to fill 20% of the workforce by 2020, this generation is the largest yet – here’s what your business needs to know about them.

Key Characteristics Of Generation Z:

Gen Z understands that there’s a need for constant skill development in order to stay relevant. Their parents likely taught them the importance of working hard, and that no one will hand them their success. This generation is willing to work hard, but they expect to be rewarded for it.” – Source

1. Hardworking but motivated by financial security.

Due to growing up in times of financial instability (the greatest economic instability since the Great Depression) and likely watching their parents struggle with money, Gen Z are eager to be financially stable. They value hard work and stability.

2. Digital Natives

Growing up with technology, Gen Z earned the moniker “Digital Natives”. They are the first generation to be intrinsically connected to the digital world; as a result, they’re great at adapting constantly to new technology and software.

3. Self-taught

Combining the first two points, this is the generation of continuous learning. Used to an ever-changing job market, skills becoming redundant and technology completely overhauling, Gen Z realises the importance of keeping their skill-set updated.

However, due to their constant connection, Gen Z are also used to teaching themselves. They’ve grown up sorting through the large amounts of information available at their fingertips – and utilising it. Independent learners, they tend to pick things up quickly and are more than happy to problem-solve without micro-management.

4. Multi-taskers

While Generation Z can have lower attention spans than their Millennial counterparts, they make up for it in their unprecedented ability to multi-task. Growing up looking between phones, iPods, laptops, computers, television screens, workbooks and homework, the digital natives are used to seamlessly switching between medias effectively.

5. Early starters

Driven by witnessing the past generation struggle to find jobs out of university – and driven to start gaining financial stability as soon as possible – Gen Z are getting onto the career ladder earlier.

I was told that there’s winners and losers, and if I’m not willing to work my butt off there are 70 million other people that are going to come right up behind you and take your job,” Jonah Stillman says. “We are a very competitive and driven generation.” – Source

How Your Business Can Attract and Retain Gen Z:

This generation is competitive, ambitious – and looking to settle in and start moving up quickly. If your business doesn’t meet their needs, hiring Generation Z will be difficult – and retaining them impossible.

83% of Gen Z believes that three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend at their first job – with some believing it to be as little as a year.

1. Progression

The first thing your business needs to offer is the possibility of progression. This generation are pragmatic, with one eye to the future; therefore, every job is an opportunity and a step towards their future.

What progression does your business offer? Can they grow within the company or develop a strong skillset that will help them develop outside the company?

In terms of a long-term career, how does your business help them?

2. Flexible working

Furthermore, this is the generation to follow on from the “work life balance” pioneers – and they’re always connected. To Generation Z, working remotely is just as, if not more, efficient as being in the office.

Does your business offer flexible working options?

3. Constant learning

The world is ever-changing – and there’s always more to learn. Jobs we’re doing today could be obsolete this time next year; jobs everyone’s competing for in ten years might not exist yet!

Because of this, Gen Z want to constantly be learning new skills, to prepare them for whatever the future holds.

Does your business offer opportunities for learning and development of new skills?

4. A modern workplace

Finally, these are the Digital Natives – technology is almost an integral part of their DNA. Slow computers, outdated operating systems, lack of technology . . . these are all going to be largely off-putting.

Are your business’s offices up to date?

Hopefully, this helped to shed some light on the latest generation arriving to the workplace! If you’d like some tips for managing multiple generations at work, feel free to read our post here.


Hot Desking: A Trend Your Office May Want To Avoid

The modern office landscape is ever-changing. With focus on flexibility and collaboration in the workplace, we have seen the rise of open office plans and remote working. We’ve seen the cubicle become all-but extinct. One of the newest trends to develop? Hot desking. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at hot-desking . . . and why we don’t really recommend it.

What is it?

Hot-desking is a practice wherein an office has non-allocated desks; workspaces are first-come, first serve and employees have no set places to work. As employees aren’t given a desk, employers usually don’t buy one per person to account for the fact some employees may be working remotely, which cuts costs on both space and equipment.

Why is hot-desking popular?

The ideas behind hot-desking are similar to the ones that spawned the open office. Collaboration, innovation and cutting office running costs.

The party line goes: if employees aren’t confined to working in the same place, surrounded by the same people, they’ll meet and collaborate with new faces. Hopefully leading to crossovers of skills, better employee relationships and a boost in creativity.

When is it useful?

Hot-desking is most useful when your workforce is flexible and work from home at least part time. This is because your entire office is unlikely to be in at the same time, which means there’s usually a desk or two that’s not being used. Instead of these desks sitting there empty, hot desking means you won’t buy them – and that, in theory, you’ll never have wasted space.

Why we don’t recommend hot-desking

While hot-desking may have its apparent benefits, overall we don’t recommend it. Let’s take a look at why.

Why We Don't Recommend Hot Desking

Employees have no personal space

When you work in an office that hot-desks, you have no personal desk. No place to put knick-knacks or photos of your kids; no place to head straight for in the morning. Especially if you’re bringing in your own equipment, lugging your possessions around the office to find a free desk is another annoyance.

Once you have found a free desk, you have to unpack all your work things and set yourself up before you can begin productive work (and then repack it all when you leave) – spending more time every day on low-level subsistence activity.” – Source

This can be very unsettling for employees – as well as leaving them feeling under-appreciated and undervalued.

It gets cluttered easily

Because no one workplace belongs to anyone . . . who’s going to tidy it up? If you’re working somewhere before lunch, but during your break someone eats and leaves a mess at the desk, are you going to tidy up their mess? A lot of people would say no – it’s not their desk and it’s not their mess.

What happens if all of your office staff are in?

Most remote workers only work from home a few days out of the week, so what happens when your entire workforce is in the office and there aren’t enough desks?

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What happens when your team can’t all sit together?

Even if there is enough room for your team individually, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll all manage to find desks together. This means that entire teams or departments could end up separated – making collaborative work difficult.

Can foster resentment

When an office starts hot-desking, usually the higher ups still have allocated desks. While this makes sense, it can still breed resentment between employees and heighten the feelings of under-appreciation.

Negative impact on staff

However, the biggest reason we don’t recommend hot-desking is because employees don’t like it. Your workforce is highly unlikely to benefit from implementing hot-desking – studies have actually shown hot-desking has negative impact on staff.

A survey carried out by Unison in 2012 showed that:

  • 90% of respondents said it had a negative effect on morale;
  • 90% said it increased their stress levels;
  • 80% said they do not have the same access to peer support; and
  • only 15% felt that flexibility and efficiency had increased



As with many “office solutions” aimed at promoting collaboration, the opposite seems to be true. While the idea of meeting and working next to different people every day sounds like a great opportunity to get to know your coworkers and build relationships . . . the reality is much different.

Firstly, it’s difficult to build a relationship with your coworkers when you never sit next to the same one two days in a row. However, it’s can also be difficult to get to know your coworkers at all in a hot desking situation.

Imagine coming into the office everyday, sitting next to someone new and having to interrupt their work to start a conversation. Most people would feel rude disrupting others’ workflow – and people that need to focus may become resentful of people constantly talking to them.

Ultimately, hot desking is a solution that may be beneficial to the business, but is likely not not beneficial to the business’s employees. This is one trend we’re recommend you steer clear from.