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An Olympic effort to do business better

David Saul, managing director of leading serviced office operator Business Environment, on the lessons the Olympic Games have for the business world.

Few events have captured the imagination of the British public like the London 2012 Olympics. The Games have not only been an organisational triumph, but Team GB has scooped its largest medal haul for over 100 years.

It’s not a surprise that this success has got people talking. Perhaps more surprising is the number of commentators wishing to apply the lessons of this success to the business world.

From Will Hutton arguing that the Olympics embody the right mix of state investment and individual excellence required to repair our economy, to Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King lamenting how the ‘get rich quick’ mentality of the financial sector contrasts unfavorably with the hard graft and dedication displayed by Team GB’s Olympic champions.

King’s article prompted a slew of headlines about how bankers could learn from the success of our athletes, but the piece he wrote covered more than this. He also attacked the financial sector for promoting the message that huge pay packets were the key to motivating people – contrasting this with the many volunteers who helped make the Olympics a success – and claimed the Games underline the need to invest in competitive team sports in schools.

He develops his point on motivation being about more than money to explain that the businesspeople who have most impressed him most have been motivated primarily by the desire to show their products are the best. The passion these people have for offering the best product and service to their customers has delivered them financial rewards as a by-product.

The link between these people and Olympic volunteers may be slightly tenuous – sheer financial necessity means it’s unlikely people would have so willingly volunteered had the Games been an ongoing event – but the fact that businesses should primarily strive to provide an excellent product or service, as opposed to chasing financial rewards, is an important one.

This commitment to do business better and provide an excellent service can also be crucial to the success of your customers as well as your own.

This is a very key part of our corporate strategy at Business Environment – a recognition that our success depends on that of our customers and that we can play a role in ensuring that success.

As a serviced office provider, we need to make sure that our clients can get the most out of their working day, which is where our service levels can be crucial.

This led us to draw up The Business Environment Service Excellence Guarantee, which includes guidelines on all areas of the business from front-of-house service to cooling and heating systems, presentation of employees and emergency procedures for power failures.

There’s no doubt that hard work, a desire to reach your personal best and strive for excellence is as important in the business world as athletics. The companies that learn that lesson can be the gold medallists of the business world.

David Saul David Saul is MD for Business Environment