Animal antics in the office

Last updated at 09:37 31 August 2005

As all those familiar with working in an office will know, it can be a jungle out there.

Now a study has shown that traits from the animal kingdom are indeed key factors when it comes to surviving and thriving in the world of work.

Nine out of ten of 1,500 office workers surveyed fell into one of four behaviour groups, which have been linked to the characteristics of four different creatures - lemurs, koalas, elephants and hyenas.

The likelihood of promotion as well as their popularity at work depended on which animal they resembled, the researchers found.

The biggest group - accounting for 52 per cent of office workers - were identified as lemurs because of their likeable and friendly nature.

They tended to get on well with their colleagues and were quick to receive recognition and gain promotion.

The second-largest group - representing almost one in three workers - were like koalas, the research found.

Workers in this group tended to be calm, but not proactive. Their behaviour was defined by routine, yet they remained calm and sensible in stressful situations.

Happy to spend the day at their desk, they were nevertheless out of the door at 5pm on the dot and were known to have little desire for promotion.

A further 15 per cent of workers were identified as elephants. Solid and reliable, they were 'lifetimers' who were happy plodding away at work.

Thick-skinned, they tended to think they knew the best way to manage the company and were protective of the office as a whole, but were generally against changes at work.


The smallest group - accounting for only five per cent of workers - were ambitious and highly competitive hyenas.

They were efficient, industrious employees prepared to work all hours to prove their worth. However, while appearing to work with others, they were often loners rather than team players.

Judi James, a psychologist and behavioural expert, said modern office employees had worked out the benefits of keeping their colleagues on side.

"Traditionally the lion has always been leader of the pack, but in today's office kingdom the lemur is top of the tree," she said.

"Workers within each group display their very own distinct animal antics, from marking their territory within the office, choosing to work alone or striving under stress.

"The jungle may seem a world away from the four office walls, but it is closer to home than people may think."

Paul Jacobs, managing director of Office Angels, the recruitment consultants which carried out the research, added: "A team with a cocktail of characteristics is the most productive within an office.

"In varied teams, people are able to learn from each others' strengths and weaknesses, whether it be confidence, reliability or expertise.

"A mix of all of the above, rather than too much of one or another, is the ideal combination for success within any workplace."

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