A happy workplace is not something that happens by accident. It’s the product of both physical and intangible changes that makes a more harmonious workplace. Here are 10 things you can do immediately to create a better office environment.
1: It’s all about the natural light
Not only does natural lighting look better, but there is a strong connection between natural light in the workplace and employees’ quality of sleep and energy. Neurology researchers at Northwestern University found that people who work in offices with windows receive 173 percent more white light (i.e. light from the sun) during work hours and sleep an extra 46 minutes every night. Workers were better rested and therefore in a better frame of mind.
2: Create a clean and comfortable space
It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you that when you are in an area that is attractive, comfortable, and pleasant, you feel better. This is true of both the home and the work environment, so be sure to clear away clutter and broken equipment, and mend flickering lightbulbs and temperamental air conditioning or heating units. And though it may not seem like a big deal, invest in new, ergonomic furniture, plants, updated equipment, and quality coffee and snacks. Your staff will not only appreciate that their well-being is important to you, but they’ll be energetically affected by the space in a positive way.
3: Equip the office with recreational areas
If you can, make room for outdoor hoops or an indoor ping pong table. Team members will enjoy having a place to get a little exercise or to blow off some steam between tasks. Plus, friendly games with others can lead to better rapport and team cohesion.
4: Allow workstation personalisation
Your employees spend a good portion of their day at their workstation, so let them decorate their area in ways that are personal and appealing to them. This may mean choosing a standing or adjustable desk, an office chair or a stability ball, and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. They should feel free to adorn their cubicle or office with personal photos, plants, and desk lamps. When we customise our space, we feel more of a sense of pride, and that pride will extend to everything we do at work.
5: Limit those meetings!
In study after study, workers consistently report that meetings are their biggest productivity killer. The average professional goes to 61.8 meetings per month, 63 percent of meetings don’t have an agenda, and 73 percent of people are doing other work at meetings. Whenever possible, communicate through email, a centralised whiteboard, or other methods that don’t pull people away from projects.
6: Make it comfy
Designing a comfortable office environment is about more than aesthetics; careful attention to design can give a boost to employee happiness. In the current economy, the focus is often on leasing office space based on price, with less attention paid to design, layout and amenities. Smart business leaders, however, think beyond the existing layout and furniture options when moving into a new office or refurbishing a space.
“That fresh coat of paint and new carpet your landlord gave you when you signed the lease is great, but there are other small investments of time and money that can transform your office into a more productive workspace…” writes Lois Goodell, principal and the director of interior design at CBT Architects, in an Inc.com guide on creating a productive office environment. In short, making a comfortable environment takes more than a sturdy desk and comfortable chair – it incorporates quality lighting, good ventilation, and a quality heating-and-cooling system.
7: Focus on utility
When the basics of a functional office work flawlessly, and when complaints regarding technology and equipment malfunctions are answered and remedied quickly, that goes a long way to making employees satisfied with their surroundings. But you’ll want to go several steps further. “Companies should take advantage of the research and give thought to furniture design and how it fits the needs of employees and their work habits,” writes Goodell, who also suggests the space should be wired to support Wi-Fi to maximise the space’s flexibility. But don’t let utility override personality: Remember, your employees spend more time at work than almost anywhere else, so “it should be a comfortable and inspiring environment,” with wall colours and art that support your company’s image and culture.
8: Remind yourself (and employees) to sit less
People who work at desks should stand or walk around for at least two hours a day to avoid health risks related to too much sitting, according to a 2015 British study. “Moving around throughout your workday is really important,” says Robert Graham, MD, director of integrative health and wellness for Northwell Health System, in Great Neck, NY. “Not only is it good for you physically, but studies show that it can increase productivity and more likely to focus on the task at hand.”
If your workplace allows it, switching to a standing desk can help you sit less and move more during the day. But being on your feet all day can also lead to aches and pains, so look for a setup that allows you to adjust the height or your work station and use a chair when needed.
9: Paint your walls green
Shades of green have been linked to enhanced creative thinking, says Sally Augustin, PhD, an environmental psychologist and principal at Design With Science. “And most of us have to be creative at work, whether we’re coming up with a new advertising slogan or figuring out how to analyse data on a spreadsheet in a different way,” she says. To get the most out of your walls, choose a hue that’s quiet and calming—like a sage or sea-foam green. “Colours that aren’t very saturated but relatively bright put us in the right sort of relaxed mental state to be doing knowledge work.”
10: Bring in the experts
We’ve seen nine tips on easy ways to make your office space a little better for productivity and employee engagement. Yet one thing we’ve not mentioned is bringing in an outside expert for some advice. Since 2007, Boss Stationery have helped hundreds of businesses create a dynamic, flexible, practical space within their office environment. We can offer a complimentary survey of your office and suggest ways you can make your office better.
Get started by visiting www.bosslimited.co.uk or call 01756 793003.