Making people more comfortable in the workplace is a trend that can reliably improve productivity, make your workplace look more appealing to potential hires and, overall, improve the ambience. Every single one of these benefits would be worth making a major innovation over, yet, put together, they make this improvement project definitely worth your while.
Also, you need to keep in mind that by making your workplace into a better work environment, you’re not just improving the potential amount of work that is getting done. By creating a workplace that people like you will also improve the quality of people’s work, which is a metric that you won’t always be able to quantify. All in all, here are the top five categories that you can improve by making your office into a better work environment.
1. Reducing distractions
The first thing you need to do in order to improve the efficiency of your workplace is to reduce the number of distractions that are taking place everywhere. The way in which this works is fairly simple. First, you go with the minimalist office design. Second, you keep everything as decluttered as possible. Finally, you invest in the hygiene of the place. This last part will also help reduce the potential distraction caused by odours. By doing these three things alone, you’ll create a work environment in which it’s so much easier for your staff to fully focus on the task that’s ahead of them.
While visual distractions can be devastating at times, what you also need to keep in mind is the fact that a noise distraction is probably the single biggest problem for the productivity and focus in the workplace. It comes from several sources, including the chattering around the office, the noise made by foot traffic and keyboards and even the outside noises like traffic, etc. The only way to eliminate all of them is to provide every single member of your staff with a set of noise-cancelling headphones. Due to the fact that this might be a bit outside of the scope of your budget, your next move should definitely be finding other ways to improve the office acoustics. This is particularly important in open offices.
The last form of distraction that you need to try and root out is the tactile one. The most common form in which this happens is the scenario where the work stations are too densely packed and it’s nearly impossible for one to walk from one end of the office without asking their colleagues to move their chairs. By giving every single one of your employees at least 11 square meters (a law prescribed norm), you’ll eliminate this issue from ever becoming a serious problem.
2. Sense of belonging
The next thing you need to try and achieve is to create a sense of belonging in your employees. Even more importantly, you need to give them a sense of ownership of the company. The way in which this works is fairly simple. The first step in achieving this is something that we’ve already discussed in the previous section – giving everyone enough personal space. If it’s their cubicle, this should be a lot easier, from the standpoint of decoration. On the other hand, even if it’s just their workstation, your employees need to have the privilege of customizing it to their own liking.
The next thing you need to do is create a sense of belonging within your office. This, however, isn’t as much of a design trend as it is a continuous effort by nurturing a healthy work environment and insisting on team-building exercises. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of making your team feel The next thing you need to do is create a sense of belonging within your office. This, however, isn’t as much of a design trend as it is a continuous effort by nurturing a healthy work environment and insisting on team-building exercises. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of making your team feel welcome in your employ, as well as improving your talent retention rates. A lot of people are willing to leave their employers or their job but not a lot of them are so eager to leave their coworkers behind.
The last thing worth mentioning here is the fact that your employees have a chance to make office friendships outside of work. This can further enhance the positive phenomenon discussed in the previous paragraph and enhance your willingness. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can affect. Nonetheless, by hosting corporate parties and developing traditions like going together to get a beer after work are things that could, perhaps, facilitate this process a bit.
3. Better nutrition
It’s proven that certain foods boost brain function of your employees, which is why by making improvements in this regard, you can achieve a significant boost in productivity. The first thing you can do is make a cafeteria where you will serve a much healthier menu. This includes meals consisting of a lot of healthy fats, protein and healthy carbohydrates. For some this may be too expensive, yet, you should at least outfit kitchen with some basic tools that will make it easier for healthy food storage and preparation.
One of the most important things that you need to keep in mind is the fact that coffee works as a serious performance enhancer. This is why an investment in a branded Lavazza Office Coffee may make such a drastic shift in your favour. Coffee boosts alertness, increases motivation and even impacts one’s learning ability. All of these skills and traits are essential for the majority of tasks that are required in a modern office space. In other words, an investment in the quality of coffee is essential for the performance of your team.
4. A recharge room
In order for your team to stay focused for as long as possible, it needs to have mandatory breaks. The term mandatory is particularly important due to the fact that some people willingly avoid these breaks, believing that this allows them to do more. Breaks need to be mandatory but the quality matters even more than their frequency and duration. This is why you need to start by creating an outstanding break room, that is both furnished and big enough to take everyone in. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t have to go for the traditional break room but can, instead, opt for a proper recharge room.
One of the latest productivity trends in the business world is the so-called 20-minute power nap that allows you to fully recharge your batteries and return fresh and productive to your workstation. For this to give the optimal effect, however, what you need to do is optimize an area of your break room for these power naps. What this means is dimming the lights in the room, giving people quality sleeping furniture (either real beds or quality mattresses), as well as creating a noise-free environment.
One more thing that is known to boost workplace productivity is the trend of deskercise (exercises at your office desk), as well as the trend of having a real office-gym. The latter turns a lot of entrepreneurs away, due to the fact that it’s seen as expensive or non-profitable, however, this is not the case if you decide to go for a low-cost option. We’re talking about skip rope as a means of cardio, as well as a padded floor that’s well-suited for callisthenics. By hiring a coach to lead these exercises, you can get all the efficiency that you need.
One of the more unique concepts of boosting your workplace lies in starting an on-spot daycare. There are several ways in which this benefits your business. First of all, it makes you into a more compassionate-looking enterprise, which, automatically, boosts your appeal to potential hires. Second, it improves the morale of your staff, especially that of working moms in your employ. Third, it really helps convince some of these working parents to stay longer hours, knowing that their kids are well taken care of. Most importantly, they can spend those 20-30 minutes break with their kids, which drastically increases their efficiency.
5. Talent attraction and retention
You need to remember that people will leave you if they see your work environment as unhealthy or counterproductive. On the other hand, if they feel pleasant every time they come to work, they might just change the perspective on what it’s like to be in your employ. Second, if you’re trying to hire people, chances are that these potential hires will hear about your working conditions and refuse to work for you, for this very reason.
The other way around applies, as well, if your office is a positive, well equipped, well-organized place, your potential hires will know about this, which will make them want to work for you even harder. The idea of working for you will become something that they both visualize and idealize, which is why it will appeal to them so strongly. In other words, improving the workplace benefits your talent attraction and retention efforts. The best thing about this is the fact that you aren’t working towards this, to begin with. What you’re trying to achieve is the above-discussed productivity and morale boost and you’re receiving this as a positive side-effect.
The last thing worth mentioning here is the fact that you also get a substantial boost to your talent attraction and retention efforts. The way in which this works is quite simple. If your office feels like a prison (and you would be surprised to learn just how many places do), people won’t be able to wait for 5 PM, so that they can rush back to their homes. If, however, it’s a pleasant work environment, it won’t be that hard to convince them to stay a bit longer. In fact, they might even volunteer to do so or simply lose track of time.
As you can see, by improving your workplace, you can achieve an effect similar to that of having a larger workforce or a more expensive operation. In other words, you’re achieving much higher cost-effectiveness of your current operations, without having to over-commit with investments. Moreover, we’ve mentioned so many benefits on so many different levels and the best thing is that by doing one thing, you’re improving your organization on many different layers at the same time. You don’t get to choose between these benefits, you simply capitalize on all of them at the same time.
Emily Wilson is a business psychologist based in Sydney, Australia. She has a passion for marketing and design, researching, exploring and writing.