It used to be that the ideal office setting was one that was strict, almost drab, and authoritative. Now, they’re learning towards fun and stimulating because there’s a healthy load of research that shows how stimulating office places encourage financial growth, less sick days, and happier employees.
Here are a few ways to create fun and stimulating office environments.
One of the biggest driving forces behind employee satisfaction is the feeling of being in control. This can mean many different things, including their choice of where they work, their choice of how they complete their work, and their choice of how they work with others.
Workplaces that enable employees to feel in control see higher output and performance from them. This doesn’t mean that employees get to choose where their office is located, but it does mean that there are different areas or them to work. These choices can be as simple as having areas designated as quiet spaces, or even just allowing employees to wear noise-cancelling headphones while listening to music.
Most importantly, this shows an employer trusts their employees.
Open Windows, Views, and the Outdoors
Keeping employees crowed inside might be a carryover from the days of school where it was thought that allowing students to look outside distracted too much from the work that they were supposed to complete. It’s understood that blocking these views, and keeping people from enjoying nature actually hinder performance.
Just having windows increases productivity by close to 20%. Allowing people to come into contact with nature, or go outside, not only increases it more, but the natural daylight keeps people’s circadian rhythms in check, which leads to better sleep, and all of this in turn reduces stress – which is the number one killer of productivity. Stress also contributes to weaker immune systems and leads to missed work.
If all else fails, add some plants around the office.
Although this might vary for each person individually, one study found that a temperature of 70.88 degrees Fahrenheit was the ideal temperature for productivity. Good luck keeping it exactly at that mark, though. What’s important, though, is that for every 1.8 degrees above or below that mark, performance decreased 1% to 2%.
It’s not feasible for every office space to do it, but if employers can provide individual control to each employee, or employees in a specific space, such as floor vents, this will only add to the option of choice each employee has, and give them more control.
Individuality and Color
So many office spaces have become drab places with harsh lights, black and white documents, and neutral colors. However, allowing employees to add personal touches to their environments, or even collaborate to decorate a workspace together, will increase togetherness, improve morale and employee relations, and increase mental stimulation. Even if they can’t have that because of company policy or because of the nature of the work, just painting the walls with more colors will do the trick.
This is similar to the open windows and access to nature part. Colors will create a warmer environment, contrast, and visual stimulation. Of course, without some of the other options that employees have, just splashing the walls with a coat of red or orange paint won’t do the trick.
Breaks, Music, and Pets
This coincides with choice, really. Although some people have a harder time working in a noisy environment, others have a hard time working in a quiet environment. If possible, allow music to be played throughout a workspace. It might be hard to find something everyone agrees on, but if there are cubicles are smaller areas where employees work, sometimes light music from each station isn’t a problem.
Additionally, allowing employees to take breaks when they need to is huge. Think of conferences at hotels. During free time, some employees will meet and talk in the lobby. Others might find a private place to work. Each has their own work routine, but as long as they’re getting everything done, it’s not a big issue.
It’s the same with office spaces. Allow employees to have control and trust them to get their work done. Usually, this will pay off in the long term.
Also, if no one’s allergic, and it doesn’t cause any problems, allow an office space pet. It’s a simple reminder that although everyone’s working, there’s still a reason to be happy and enjoy it.
Clarice Chu gives tips and advice on creating a productive and fun office environment for business owners. For more ideas on effective office management, please go here.