Middle East firms losing $0.55m in contracts

Shoddy workplaces cost Middle East companies millions

Shoddy workplaces are costing Middle East companies millions, and according to a study, companies lose an average of $0.55m (AED 2 million) in contracts due to unsightly office interiors.

The Office Exhibition, in partnership with research company YouGov, surveyed 1,172 CEOs and directors from across the MENA region, to find out the extent a supplier’s office setting influences procurement decisions.

According to the findings, untidy, smelly and poorly designed offices cost Middle East companies in lost revenue.


“These results confirm, with quantifiable evidence, what we and the design industry have always known,” says David Wilson, event director, The Office Exhibition.

“A healthy workplace environment not only boosts productivity, it signals professionalism and inspires confidence in the company’s product or service.  Conversely, offices which smell of food or cigarette smoke, are dirty, or have furniture that is old and unwelcoming turn business away.

“Businesses in the region need to take a good look at what their work environment says about their company. Ignoring this could literally mean they are throwing contracts away,” he added.

Cheryl Durst, executive vice president, CEO of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), said: “Studies like this reaffirm that in business first impressions matter and allow us to justify the return on interior fit out investments.”

“Business owners need to understand that their office represents their shop window. Poorly designed offices will see business walk straight out the door – if it even reaches the front door in the first place. When you add to that the more intangible costs of low employee morale and poor work rates, it is reasonable to assume that the true cost of bad office design to a business could reach millions of dollars,” she added.

Some findings include:

  • 85% of business decision makers said they would be concerned about a company’s professionalism if their offices did not look respectable.
  • Among the top factors contributing to a poor impression of other businesses, respondents cited: dirty or untidy offices (70%); unpleasant smells (66%); noisy or chaotic offices (52%); and cheap or outdated décor (52%).
  • More than two thirds of respondents (69%) said they find themselves wanting to leave a meeting early because of uncomfortable seating.
  • 56% of respondents admitted to avoiding meeting at someone’s place of work all together because they did not like their offices.

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