The majority of office workers spend eight hours a day in the workplace. To many, the office becomes a second home. For many years business owners and managers were reluctant to make office spaces too comfortable, as they believed that doing so could negatively impact productivity. However, research has shown that an overall change of environment in many offices can improve staff morale and productivity.
The key benefits to making the office environment comfortable
The idea that a comfortable office space results in unproductive staff has proven to be a misconception. In fact, a carefully designed office can make workers feel rested, focussed, and active, resulting in increased productivity and an overall positive working environment. It's not hard to imagine that unpleasant concepts often found in poorly designed office spaces, such as cramped workspaces, noise, and fluorescent lighting, limit the working capacity of employees in all industries.
But it is not all about the employees. A well-designed office can also lead to a positive impression on visitors and potential customers. Inviting a prospective client to meet at a comfortable and welcoming office will paint a picture of a company that puts just as much effort into their businesses as they do the well-being of their staff and facilities.
Looking for ways to improve your workspace and make it more inviting for employees and clients? The following suggestions have proven effective:
Break Down the Walls
For decades the stereotypical office consisted of row after row of individuals workstations or cubicles, organised methodically to maximise space. After years of study and experimentation of alternative working habits, it has been proven that spending upwards of 8 hours per day in a reduced workspace, such as the traditional cubicle, can have negative physical and psychological effects on employees in all field. In response to these studies, open plan offices have become a popular option of companies across the world. These offices allow employees to mingle freely, working on multiple tasks in multiple different spaces and providing a new level of freedom that inspires creativity and reduces burnout.
However, not all offices have the capability to drastically change the layout of their current space. In this instance, one possible solution would be to replace cubicle walls with movable partitions or insert glass walls. These solutions will allow the office to become modular, whilst also opening sightlines and making employees feel part of a cohesive unit.
Fluorescent lighting was once the standard in most offices, however, modern sentiments lean towards the belief that, whenever possible, natural light should be used as the primary method of lighting. Prolonged exposure to artificial light can cause headaches, fatigue, and even eyesight problems. Ideally, an office should be fitted with large windows and flexible lighting systems that allow control over the intensity of the light emitted. Alternatively, it is possible to utilise a combination of different fluorescent light types, including those that give off "daylight" and "warm" light to mimic natural lighting.
Research has shown that the ideal office temperature should range between 22°re; and 26°re; Celsius. Inadequate temperature control not only diminishes productivity, but also results in unnecessarily large utility bills. In the UK, the 1992 Workplace Regulations established different minimum temperatures depending on the type of workspace. If in doubt, refer to these guidelines.
In order to achieve the best results, it's important to ensure that basic office furniture (chairs, desks, and computers) is both ergonomic and modern. However, be sure to never emphasise aesthetics over function. Invest in essentials such as: adjustable chairs with excellent back support, keyboard wrist pads, anti-glare screen protectors, footrests, and wireless headsets.
Pay attention to the colours that dominate your office. Cooler colours, such as light blue or green, encourage concentration but might not be ideal for offices looking to emphasise creativity. Depending on the demands of your business, look to include relaxing touches, like flowers, plants, aquariums, and art.
Last, but not least, it is imperative that you consult employees for their opinion and be ready to welcome their input on any changes that could be made in order to create a more comfortable and welcoming workspace.