Employees are increasingly demanding of the environment they work in – and for good reason. The quality of an office space is closely linked to its inhabitants’ productivity and quality of work. It’s safe to say that sad, grey cubicles aren’t cutting it anymore.
It’s pretty much common knowledge that the office environment you work in affects your productivity and wellness. We’ve all been there – struggling to prepare a presentation while nearby colleagues are talking loudly or fighting over the thermostat because it’s too cold to focus. Naturally, people tend to lose focus when they feel discomfort, whether it’s caused by temperature, noise levels, fatigue, or other office stressors. That way, as an employer, you need to make sure they are as comfortable as possible while they’re at the office.
It’s not just about distractions, either. A sedentary lifestyle can have a severe impact on your employees’ health, including high blood pressure, back issues and a shortened life. A well-designed office that encourages employees to take frequent breaks can help them avoid these issues and keep stress levels down.
Below you’ll find some tips related to how you can adapt your office to your employees’ recreational needs. Read on to find out how you can turn your office into a healthy, productive, and collaborative space.
- Offer quiet workspaces
Sometimes, you just need some peace and quiet to get the job done, and open space offices can be noisy places, especially if they’re bigger. Disruptions like random conversations, ringing phones, or even loud typing can make working under pressure nerve-racking. Furthermore, they’re not rare occurrences. According to a Dale Office Interior survey, workers are interrupted every 11 minutes on average, and it can take 23 minutes to regain concentration. That’s a lot of wasted time.
Of course, giving every single one of your employees their own office – while an ideal scenario – isn’t a realistic goal. That’s why you need to offer your employees private spaces that they can use temporarily while working on intensive tasks, as well as smaller conference rooms where several people can work together.
If your office has limited space and that’s not an option, you can also change your office layout to minimize noise and distractions. For example, you can try to minimize visual distractions by installing dividers or facing desks away from high-traffic areas such as hallways, meeting rooms, or break areas.
- Minimize office clutter
Some people can live with clutter around them, but most enjoy an environment free of excessive wires and loose papers. These things might seem small, but they can be distracting for your employees. So make sure that you practice good wire management and offer your employees proper storage solutions for their documents.
To this end, using as many wireless devices as possible is a great option for making your employees’ desks less cluttered. Also, going paperless is a great way to make the office tidier – not to mention it has other perks, such as increasing productivity and data security, as well as eliminating paper-related costs. Noise travel can also be reduced by using softer furnishings or installing fabric screens between desks. Of course, if some of your employees are frequent phone users, they need to sit close together as to not disturb the other workers. Booth seating is also a great way to create more secluded group-work areas that contain noise quite well.
- Give your employees a place to unwind
According to Dale Office Interior, breaks and relaxation are the biggest factors when it comes to productivity. Reportedly, one in five people believes that having more relaxation spaces would improve their productivity at work. That’s why you should look at such spaces as an investment, not a cost.
Ideally, you should have a dedicated room where your employees can relax and unwind in a more comfortable space without interfering with their colleagues’ work. Usually, these spaces are similar to lunchrooms, with more comfortable seating instead of the usual chairs, and in some cases, books, TVs, or video game consoles. For example, the Money.co.uk offices in Gloucestershire have built a Star Wars-themed cinema. When it’s not used for meetings, the employees can screen movies, play video games, and snack from a popcorn machine. Ticketmaster even installed a slide in their London headquarters. Nothing boosts productivity like sliding between floors instead of the usual boring stairs.
If you can’t invest in a dedicated relaxation room, converting a corner of your office lunchroom is a viable alternative. You can either get a sectional sofa or a couple of 2/3 seaters and put together a space where your employees can lounge, socialize, and just relax for a few minutes.
- Create a pleasant atmosphere
This should go without saying, but your employees need a healthy environment to be truly productive. Make sure you monitor temperature, as well as air quality and ventilation. Try to maximize natural light levels while keeping monitor glare to a minimum. That means positioning the desks to face the windows, when possible.
When it comes to improving employee comfort during actual work, nothing is more important than posture. Provide them with ergonomic chairs and educate them about keeping good posture, including adjusting their chairs and monitors at the right height. Some are even advocating standing desks, but standing all day isn’t necessarily a good alternative to sitting all day. It can reportedly lead to lower back problems and boost the risk of carotid arteries, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis and other cardiovascular problems. Given this information, you’re better off encouraging your employees to adopt a balanced approach and alternate between sitting and standing.
The bottom line
In the end, it comes down to paying close attention to your employees’ needs and wellbeing. Of course, every industry has its own work process particularities, but the need for a healthy environment is a universal human trait. Whether you’re a pharmaceutical company or an airplane manufacturer, you have to provide your employees with an adequate workplace that will keep them stress-free. In the end, applying the above tips will surely boost both your workers’ well-being and your bottom line.
By Natalie Dunn
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