Despite 50 hour weeks, over half of UK workers describe themselves as ‘Thriving’


Management say that they rarely leave the office before 7pm, and ‘deskfasts’ and lunches at the computer are the norm.

British office workers feel stressed in their own jobs but adopt a ‘keep calm and carry on approach’ to chaotic working environments and take unpredictable changes at the office in their stride.

Despite the challenges facing staff over half of those questioned  considered themselves to be ‘thriving’, with only 2 per cent say they are ‘struggling’ – and their sense of wellbeing at work is amongst the highest in the world.

Although many UK workers remain dissatisfied with working conditions, they are unique in rounding off the working week in the pub with their colleagues.

The insight into British office life is revealed ‘Culture Code’, a new analysis by Steelcase, the global leader in office interiors and workplace research. Culture Code compares and contrasts the working and lifestyle habits of 11 countries around the world.

The study which compared  environments in China, France, Germany, the UK, India, Italy, Morocco, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and the US. It compares, among other things, office layouts, employee/management dynamics, working hours, cultural influences, work/life balance, and job satisfaction and security.

According to Zoe Humpries, one of the authors of the report, said: “British workers face constant pressure to stay longer at work and do more. Workers are stressed and dissatisfied with their working conditions.That said British workers are competitive and most are convinced they have to be tough to succeed.

“The British rank very highly on individualism and have embraced mobile working easily. However, they move jobs quite frequently. Close personal relationships are not regarded as important in business.

“The variation in approaches to work across the world is striking and while globalisation is a key theme, there is some very strong national characteristics.”

Among the key findings of the report are:-

Longest working day – China. 25% work 11 hour days every day but take long lunch breaks during which naps are common.

Early risers – Germany. Workers like to start early and leave early and are highly productive. Distractions at work, such as social celebrations, are kept to a minimum. Achieving financial success and status at work are often prioritized.

Anyone for coffee? – Italy. Coffee breaks are important social times in the workday. Meetings are intense and lively, usually led by management, and often start late.

Shortest working week – the Netherlands. Typically less than 40 hours. Amongst the first to embrace flexible working and do lots of work away from the office. High job satisfaction.

Fast and furious – Russia. Pace of work is fast and intesnse. Older workers nostalgic for security – younger workers want more free time. Job hopping common.

Life before work – Spain. Spaniards put less importance on job satisfaction; personal life is the realm for doing what you want to do. Most Spaniards believe fun and work don’t mix; spaces for relaxing or socializing in the workplace are less common.

Wedded to work – The USA. At least a third of Americans don’t take all of their allotted vacation days and consider it important to demonstrate they are sacrificing their personal lives for career. Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, Americans score high in wellbeing; 57% of population consider themselves thriving, only 3% suffering.

Late for work – India. Chaotic traffic and overcrowded public transportation lengthen the average workday. Bringing lunch from home and eating at your desk is common. Turnover is high due to booming employment opportunities, especially in high-tech and media. Plus for young Indians, challenging work is as important as the reputation of the company and salary.

Work/life balance – France. On the one hand, they are deeply invested in their professional roles and career advancement. On the other hand, they prize the overall quality of their lives and consider protecting it a serious matter.

Loyalty – Morocco. Traditionally, workers build close, loyal bonds to their employers. Younger workers seek more engagement and satisfaction from their work.