How a Well-Designed Office Affects Employees and Company Performance
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If you work in an office, or you are the owner of a company that has your employees working in an office, one of the best ways to go about making these hard men and women happy while in the workplace is making the area itself feel welcoming and fun.
And work-intensive, too, of course – but rather than insisting everyone sticks to their boring cubicles and only gather ‘round when they need to photocopy something, how about making the office worker-centric, rather than vice versa.
The thing is, no matter how energetic and understanding you are as the employer, an office job has a sort of natural tendency to drag people into prolonged tedium of the workday, so anything that can help animate your employees would be of massive importance to the company itself.
In this article, we’re going to talk about office design and what you can do to make your office a fun one to work in, no matter what the task at hand happens to be. As you will see, many of the solutions below are both fairly common sense and relatively inexpensive, so you won’t be having too much trouble implementing them if you choose to do so.
Right then folks, without further ado, here’s the deal.
How a Well-Designed Office Affects Employees and Company Performance
1) Ventilation and Air Quality
A stuffy office where the employees don’t get enough oxygen into their brains to effectively tackle those Excel sheets is not a place where your employees can showcase their otherwise brilliant problem-solving skills.
Unsurprisingly, the overall mood in the place will likely also go down as no one can sport a happy-go-lucky demeanor if they can’t even breathe properly.
So, in order to prevent unnecessary loss of work potential and to make your employees happy and active throughout the workday, make sure to include proper ventilation to the premises. The rooms your employees spend their time must be well-aired at all times, so you shouldn’t cheap out here, either.
Even though a thorough ventilation system may be a bit of an initial stretch to your budget, in the long run, you’ll see that it’s more than a worthwhile investment, as your employees will be happy while at work – which increases the overall productivity.
A big part of taking care of the air quality situation would also be designating special non-smoking areas, as well as those where your employees who are smokers can have a fag during the pause. Some of the other solutions that you can implement parallelly with the ventilation system (which is a must) would include setting up house plants across the office, as well as aerating the premises often by simply opening the windows.
2) Access to Clean Water
Nearly every film or TV series involving an office you see on TV nowadays features one or more of those standup water dispensers. This, of course, is not merely a common detail in every office scene, as these water dispensers are an essential need in every enclosed work environment.
Here’s the rub.
In many urban places, the tap water is no longer potable due to a disturbingly high amount of pollution, so one of the most common ways to resolve this problem usually involves setting up one of those upside-down large bottles, so that you can instantly get drinkable water by pressing that plastic lever.
When any sort of work is in question, simply drinking water rather than juices or some other beverages is a much better option. So, what you may want to do is set up a couple of posters citing the benefits of consuming just plain ole clean water on a daily basis.
Other than that, installing a water cooler during the summer can be another great way to make your employees feel loved and cared for. Also, fat chances that your employees will say ‘no’ to other beverage dispensers such as sandwich machines or fizzy-drink ones.
Working in a dimly lit environment can have its benefits at times, but everyone has to be on board with it and it has to be intentional. Otherwise, you are going to have an unmotivated, irritated, and disinterested bunch of people on your team trying to figure out what they can do to get out of the office as soon as possible.
The thing is, light plays a crucial role in how we humans perceive our immediate environment.
What looks like a well-decorated office when the lights are on can easily turn into a setting for a horror game when the lights are off.
If the lighting situation in your office isn’t exactly the best, you should start fixing it by simply removing any bulky pieces of furniture blocking the natural sunlight from entering the office. Natural light is by far the best source of lighting because our eyes are well-used to it, so you should try to allow as much of it to come into your office as possible.
For the times when there’s no natural light outside, or if you’ve had the misfortune of starting your company in an awkwardly-positioned building related to the sun, you may want to look into the light bulb scene, so to speak. Other than just fitting the usual incandescent lights everywhere, you should aim to both make the light seem warm and natural AND save money at the same time by obtaining LED or some other form of incandescent alternatives. (These may be more expensive, but they’ll both last longer and they will shine brighter than the old ones.)
4) In-Office Gyms
And by ‘in-office gyms’, we don’t mean the sort of gyms where Connor McGregor trains that have all the latest gadgets and doohickeys and where people train for professional fighting bouts.
What we’re saying is that every office where people sit for prolonged periods of time (which means a lot of offices) should have a special area dedicated just to physical activity. The thing is, ever since humans have assumed more of a sedentary lifestyle, their happiness and productivity levels have been dropping on quite a consistent basis.
The state of the matter is, of course, that humans are built for constant movement, so working in an office would not be the perfect solution for day-to-day life. This is why you, as the employer, should give your employees a special area where they can break a sweat.
As we said earlier, it doesn’t have to be anything cutting edge or anything too complex. A simple stationary bicycle can do the job quite well here. Add a couple of exercise balls and perhaps a shower facility or two and you’ve got yourself an in-office workout area your employees are going to look forward to every day.
5) Break Culture
As we’ve already mentioned many times, working a desk job can be quite a zombifying process that slowly but surely can chip away at your employees’ sanity. Now, this prospect does seem quite grim, but it’s perfectly preventable, and if you’re creating and crafty – you can even completely turn it on its head.
Here’s the deal, a big part of the day your employees and you yourself are looking for the most would probably be the break. Whether it’s the big lunch break or a small coffee break, this is the time when your employees get to get together and talk to each other about a wide variety of topics.
From an employer’s perspective, possibly the best thing about this break culture is that there’s no real investment for you to make in order to buy for your company the thing you want your employees to gather around. Whether it’s just a simple but solid bean coffee machine, or some sort of tea dispenser, as soon as you set one of these up, you can rest assured your employees will flock to pick up a cup of delicious coffee in no time.
Of course, it is during these coffee-sipping breaks that bonds and a sense of collegiality are formed, so you can get both coffee AND a sense of belonging and purpose for your employees.
6) Noise Management
Noise pollution represents one of the leading causes of workplace unhappiness standing shoulder to shoulder with the foul maladies of a sedentary lifestyle and a lack of good lighting in the office.
The problem here is that noises were often blocked by various screens you often see in those 90’s cubicles. In modern-day offices, however, this is not an option because cubicles make people lonely, frustrated, and less productive, so a major shift toward open offices has been happening in the last couple of decades.
The result of this large design movement would be a more fluid work environment, but with that come new challenges – namely the noise pollution. Since the screens and various other obstacles that used to physically divide the employees are now gone, new solutions must be employed to battle the various forms of chatter, clicking, and other sounds that we emit on a regular basis.
There are a number of different techniques at your disposal.
For example, you can fit a special sort of noise-reducing floor in your office, which acts as one of those sound-dampening walls you see in music studios that look like they’re made out of egg casings. Also, speaking of the devil, if the sound pollution is that bad, you can fit one of those wall egg casing thingies, too.
Last but not least, there’s always the solution of simply playing a certain neutral white noise on a loop, which will mask the other sounds and none of your employees will be affected by the noise itself.
7) Art and Color
… have the potential to make a special sort of atmosphere for your office, depending on what sort of art you put up on the walls.
For example, if your company creates comic books or manga, you can paint the walls so that they represent the most prominent comic book heroes your company came up with. If you have a lot of history as a company, you may want to frame and put up various old news articles written about you in the past or any awards you may have picked up over time. These will serve the purpose of creating an environment where your employees can be reminded of what it’s all about.
On the other hand, if you’re only starting, you can opt for a different sort of décor where the goal is to make your employees feel comfortable and at home. You can even organize a quick poll for your employees where they get to choose how they wish to decorate their own office, so you won’t need to work extra hard to figure out the design and everything else in your office only to have your employees complain about it later on.
Since sitting will inevitably be a big part of your office culture, it is essential you figure out how to make this aspect of yours and your employees’ day-to-day office existence a little easier to cope with.
To make your employees feel at home when they’re actually at the office, you can employ a number of different techniques including lazy bags, and stand-up desks. Of course, you have to make sure first that your employees are OK with these, because some may not be able to stand up for extended periods of time or have some medical reason why they can’t work at a standing desk.
All things considered, designing your office so that it answers all the needs of your employees while also encouraging performance and hard work isn’t nuclear science.
The thing is, as long as you take some time to deliberate on how you want your office to look and perhaps also take the opinions of your subordinates in question, too, you can rest assured that you will come up with some decent ideas sooner or later. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s all a question of finances and your willingness to put in an effort to make it happen.