Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keep It to Yourself, but Gossip at Work Costs Firms [Pounds Sterling]8bn Every Year

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Keep It to Yourself, but Gossip at Work Costs Firms [Pounds Sterling]8bn Every Year

Article excerpt

Byline: ED HARRIS

IT IS a familiar sight in every office in the country - knots of workers gossiping around the water cooler or by the lifts, exchanging tittle-tattle about colleagues, or conspiring to stick the knife in the back of some unfortunate manager.

Wherever there is an office, there will inevitably be office politics. But only now has the true cost of idle chat and Machiavellian scheming been revealed in terms of lost production - pound sterling7.8 billion a year, according to new research.

Gossip also consumes a lot of time: an hour a day - and as much as 71 minutes a day in manufacturing.

Such is its familiarity that several TV series have picked up on the theme.

Millions laughed - or groaned - in recognition at the characters in The Office with Ricky Gervais as sleazy boss David Brent, and Office Gossip starring Pauline Quirke.

The survey of 1,700 temporary staff found power struggles were the most common fuel for office politics, followed by differences of opinion and favouritism. Only one in 50 said sex or affairs between staff was the main cause - though that figure doubled in the north.

The study, by employment agency Reed, found one in four temps admitted experiencing office politics in every temporary job they had done. In London, 96 per cent of temps said they had been caught up in such intrigue.

Some described how petty arguments could bring an office to a standstill. "I have seen a grown man cry with rage at the prospect of a filing cabinet being moved 20 feet further away from his desk," one said.

Paul Rapacioli, director of reed.co.uk, said: "The office is often like a school playground; it is full of bullies, troublemakers and flirts.

Temporary workers are the new kids who see things as they really are, and our research shows office politics is a huge problem at the moment. …

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