UK business spending on products related to their office space increased 36% in September, following summer months, says findings from Pleo, Europe’s leading spend management platform, in a just-launched first-edition of its European Quarterly Spending Report.
The new insight gives the clearest indication yet that businesses and workers are getting back to pre-COVID normality concerning office attendance and are committed to a long-term change, moving away from the working-from-home culture that many businesses have struggled to overcome.
The report collated spending data from over 30,000 companies across 16 European markets – including the UK, France, Germany and Spain – giving invaluable insight into the spending habits of business leaders across the region. In the UK, the report found that nearly a third (30%) of all business spend paid through Pleo in September were for office-related items such as equipment, hardware and office expenses – a 36% increase from summer months (22%).
Q3’s number one merchant by transaction volume was Amazon Marketplace as business leaders decked out their spaces, presumably to make a positive impression on the talent soon to be spending more time there. There was also a significant spending increase at IKEA; the report notes a 26% rise in spending at the furniture and home decor powerhouse in Q3 (July, August, September) compared to Q2 in 2023.
Recent studies have found that companies that have aesthetically pleasing and well-maintained offices create a more positive environment for workers, which in turn improves productivity and morale. Brookfield Properties found that of those with highly enriched offices, 75% of employees preferred to work in the office than at home compared to 53% of those in leaner offices. With 63% of UK business leaders predicting a full return to in-office working by 2026 (KPMG’s CEO Outlook), the increase in spending on office interiors is likely to be a worthwhile investment.
James Keating, Chief Marketing Officer, at Pleo, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have certainly seen a mentality shift from business leaders and how they view their office. The pandemic showed that a business can still operate with a remote workforce but leaders are now remembering the huge benefits of having employees all in one place. It helps teams work better by creating those in-person connections and fundamentally gives businesses a culture vital for any successful business.
“However, business leaders need to understand the importance of creating a space that staff and clients like to spend time in. Our data shows there is a clear movement from businesses to get the office back to what it should be – a thriving community hub that gets the best from people. Heading into 2024, I expect we’ll continue to see investments in and around the office, as more leaders prioritise not only getting the staff back to the office but also the feel-good factor when they get there, making their individual journeys worthwhile”
The Pleo Quarterly Spending Report provides an overview of business spending trends throughout Europe, based on billions of Euros in business spend across aggregated and anonymised Pleo cards, invoices and reimbursement transactions paid through Pleo. To download the full report, please visit Pleo’s website.