How To Enhance Your Office Environment For Employees

office-design

A ‘water cooler moment’ is a popular phrase to describe people discussing a shared experience, often on television, around the office water dispenser. The water cooler itself becomes a key meeting point for employees to socialise; a good example of how an office environment can improve staff relationships. Improving your office environment for employees is a great way to increase productivity and retain your best employees. Here are some tips for how to enhance your office environment for employees:


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Why Enhance Your Office Environment?

A pleasant working environment can encourage collaboration between colleagues, stimulate creativity and increase productivity, ultimately helping to retain talented members of your team.

A recent employee engagement study found that there is a strong relationship between workplace satisfaction and high employee engagement. The report showed that employees who liked their physical workplace were the most active and engaged workers – a clear benefit for any employer.

Moreover, a positive office environment can help to improve the physical condition of your workforce. ‘Sick building’ syndrome is the idea that certain types of working environments – particularly cramped, warm and poorly-ventilated workspaces can greatly create negative physical symptoms on employees – which may increase staff absence rates and decrease productivity.

So, what are the most important components of an office environment and how can each be enhanced?


Recommended reading: 7 ways to improve team efficiency and increase productivity


Layout and Furniture

The way employees can move around an office environment is extremely important to their wellbeing. A disorganised office environment without open spaces to unwind can feel claustrophobic and increase stress levels.

Despite this, totally open-plan office spaces are not always the answer for all types of employees – often these environments can affect the concentration levels of workers who prefer a quiet, private workspace.

One way to create a workspace that is both private and social and appeals to different types of personalities is to include ‘office break out areas’. This should be a screen-free space away from the buzz of the main workspace where employees can go for informal chats or just to take a break. This could be a lounge area with a good view, games room or even a green space to help workers relax.

Lighting

Office lighting is another important factor in your office environment.

If possible, you want to give employees exposure to natural light sources. Regular, bright natural light will keep employees alert and reduce workplace stress.

If the building doesn’t have a large windows covering the desk areas, consider ‘blue-tinted’ lighting which has been found to increase serotonin levels – a key chemical in making us feel energetic and alert.

Air Quality and Ambient Temperature 

Air quality and room temperature are often one of the biggest causes for office disputes between employees who complain about being too hot or too cold (often simultaneously!). If this is seriously affecting employee concentration levels, consider changing the office layout to take into account the proximity to any heaters or air conditioning units.

Good air circulation, including air filters and exposure to outdoor air, have been found to create a more pleasant working environment as well as helping to reduce the spread of airborne illnesses between employees.

Office Greenery

A recent study by Harvard University has found that working in ‘green’ office environment results in a 26% boost in cognition and 30% fewer sickness-related absences.

Therefore, office greenery such as potted plants can have an amazing effect on the general ambience and productivity of your office environment. There are even certain types of plants which are sold for office use – generally sold because of their air-purifying or sickness-reducing qualities.

Adding plants and other greenery is a relatively low-cost way to enhance your office environment and make your employees look forward to coming to work.


Recommended reading: How to Optimise Your Company’s Office Space to Boost Employee Productivity


Provide a Water Cooler

We have already commented on the social benefits of having a water cooler, but it also has other benefits for the workforce.

Providing a water cooler also helps encourage employees to stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration can affect several cognitive functions including stress levels, concentration and even memory. With regular trips to the water cooler, employees will be more likely to work more productively for longer hours. 

In Summary 

There are several ways you can enhance your office environment for you workforce, from changing the layout and furniture to more subtle tweaks such as making sure the lighting, air quality and temperature is comfortable.

The main thing is that employees will always appreciate if an employer shows they care about them by improving the office environment. Even if it’s simply adding some plants or a water cooler in your office, these small touches won’t be missed and could greatly improve your workforce’s morale and productivity.

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