The average worker in the UK spends around 90,000 hours at work in a lifetime, even if this your dream job which you really enjoy, that’s still plenty of time to spending in the workplace.
With work accounting for so much of our time, it corresponds then that our working environment and working life have a huge impact upon our life over all, our mental state, our contentment, stress levels and positivity. This can be hugely affected by your company culture, yes, but what about the physicalities of your office, warehouse, store or wherever you base yourself and your employees?
For employers, recreating or transforming the current environment may offer up both opportunity and challenge; challenges presenting themselves as, obviously, cost and therefore what the return on this investment is going to be – you are running a business after all. But this nature of investment can be problematic to accurately measure or calculate. Realistically it may result in heightened productivity or heightened efficiency, your company culture will improve and the value of your company as viewed by current employees and potential recruits will experience a boost; from this heightened productivity you may experience financial gains but honestly, it will be difficult to measure.
The benefits of investing even a small amount of time and money into improving the workplace environment will be felt in the office if nothing else, plus it shows that management or the owners care about staff experience and health. It’s a topic that is becoming more and more prominent and a positive and caring company culture and environment are increasingly aspects that a candidate is keen to find when engaging in interviews.
So where should you be making these small changes?
How does the saying go? “A change is as good as a rest” – how true this is; when employees are confined to working in one place everyday throughout the week, there’s very little room for change in thought or outlook here; the same view, the same chair the same position. By offering varied options for working, for example, standing desks, the option for a hot desk area, or more relaxed seating where laptops can be used or group brainstorming sessions can take place, you can combat this repetitiveness and avoid a stifling environment. Any form of exercise, inclusive of a move around the office, a short walk or simply change in position aids productivity by increasing the blood flow in the body and to the brain. So, this is not only beneficial for productivity and thought process, mood and creativity but physically too.
Our minds need to be well looked after to work effectively. They’re fairly low maintenance and don’t ask for much, but they do like fresh air, they need oxygen. Inhaling all of that lovely oxygen fills our cells and fuels them with the stuff they need to function at full capacity. How do you bring this into the office? Do you have a small outdoor area that can be ‘spruced up’ with some seating perhaps? Employees could be encouraged to use this as a regular short break from the desk.
Alternatively, plants brining the effects of the outdoor air in, plants can have a huge impact on our moods and therefore productivity and drive. Keeping plenty of plants around the office, is healthy for your staff, physically and mentally. They reduce stress and offer calming effects through their colour alone.
The colours which create your working environment are an element which can be controlled to encourage positivity too, colour psychology has been increasingly used in the workplace for years. Tapping into the emotions conveyed by certain colours can have incredibly positive effects, or tap into emotions of sadness or calm, but perhaps we’ll stick to those that promote clear, productive and positive thinking!
Take a look at the shapes around your office, the furniture, the lamps, the rug, even the way that furniture is arranged. Our brains find cured objects more inviting, we find their curved edges less threatening, encouraging a calmer, more inviting space for staff. When we’re more relaxed, we’re come across less barriers to creativity and idea generation, a key to productivity.
None of these may not be things that you’ve considered as a priority previously, maybe some of them have crossed your mind, and clearly the level of change will depend upon what your budget allows for, but putting some changes in place for the health of your staff and the health of their work-life could be key moves toward improving the company productivity overall – it’s definitely worth considering!