The word “office” doesn’t usually inspire visions of a beautiful place and, as many know, working in one can get stagnant and boring. Being indoors under artificial lights for 8+ hours a day can be draining, and well, downright depressing. Research has even confirmed this, with studies showing that people subjected to artificial light for a set period of time showed a decreased quality of sleep, amount of sleep, and even in some cases created daytime dysfunction.
So what can you do to help improve this, whether just an employee wanting to improve your own space or the owner looking to renovate/design a friendlier and more productive office space? Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Natural light
Try to incorporate natural light into the office space. Of course, not everyone can have large glass windows and, in some cases, large offices will have areas that aren’t even near a window. If this is the case look at making one room (lunchroom or just a quiet area) a sanctuary with natural lighting where employees can go to relax, away from the flickering fluorescent lights many offices use. If you’re an employee, look at going outside for lunch or just make a note to walk around every few hours for 5 minutes to refresh and recoup, which is also good if, like me, you stare at a computer for hours on end.
2. Maintain 22°C
Studies have shown that people work best when the temperature is within a range of 22°C – 25°C. They also showed that below these temps there were more office errors, but as the temperature was increased to 22°C errors dropped by 44% and typing output increased by a massive 150%, showing that a small thing like regulating your office temperatures can play a significant role in productivity.
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3. Neutral colors
Try to use neutral colors were possible. Many experts believe that colors play an important role in shaping a person’s mood. Grey/White/Neutral colors breed a cool, open, relaxed atmosphere. If you want some color go for Yellow which will help produce a bright, creative environment which would work well for a Design Company, etc…, or Green helps will communication, balance, being social. Try a Blue color for a relaxation room/ lunch area which helps promote peace, honesty, kindness. Try to avoid Red whenever possible as although it helps with vitality/energy it also produces a bold, independent feeling which could cause conflicts in an office space. If you don’t have the luxury to renovate or you’re just an employee look at adding some pictures/art with these colors into your office space, I personally have a beautiful landscape picture of the Yorkshire dales adding greens and blues creating something tranquil to look at during my busy day. This can also mean you’re adding a personal touch, helping to create a more comfortable area to spend your working day in.
4. Nature = nurture
Add some plants to your office. It’s been long established that plants can help reduce stress in the workplace, so go green and add some plants to help productivity in the office. Plus this can also improve air quality, help regulate humidity (I felt my old office had a dry and almost suffocating air quality before introducing a plant) as humans prefer a humidity factor of between 30-60%, and some well-placed greenery can even help to reduce noise levels (For me phone calls, typing, general chatter really annoys me and distracts my thought process).
5. Ambient sound
Many offices are now being created with the idea of open plan work areas which helps employees feel connected but this can also produce noise factors which can lead to distractions, which further leads to reduced productivity. Many offices have the radio on to help drown out the sound that one can generate. This can help by allowing people to concentrate on an ambient sound over the general noise, but be careful as not everyone’s taste in music is the same, and choosing the right station can also be a key factor otherwise for some the music could just add to the distractions. I personally bring my own music to work, but of course, this isn’t applicable to all working situations. One solution could be introducing a quiet room, where people can work in a peaceful environment away from the general office distractions.
6. Keep healthy
Take away the sweets and go for healthier options like fruit, nuts, etc… when that belly starts rumbling. Studies have shown that people who snack on sugary treats have a lull in their productivity in the afternoon compared to non-snackers (Yes I know that’s not a word) which is due to the fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. If you really can’t live without something sweet, then try things like grapes, which are a great source of natural sugars.
7. Keep tidy
Maintain the office, keep things tidy and organized. Keep your desk free of clutter, make essential things handy to get by organizing what goes were, this will then create a more pleasant working atmosphere for yourself. Also, don’t get annoyed by others who don’t keep organized, not everyone is the same (I’m terrible at maintaining a tidy desk but I stay 5 minutes at the end of the day to make sure I organize and clean it, and it definitely helps me get started the next morning), so if you do see a colleague that always has a messy desk, help them out to better organize and get them started on the right path. This will improve their productivity and help the general office ambiance.
Finally don’t be afraid to put your own feeling and creativity into either your office space or if you are renovating/designing a new office space putting in unique ideas. This can come from including a bizarre logo placement like at the Google office in London, or creating an unusual office seating arrangement (the Office Greenhouse in Riga, Latvia has a unique design) and using wacky materials (Amsterdam company BrandBase with their pallet office) which visiting clients will see creating talking points once they have left, helping to further generate exposure for your company.
I love to see the wonderful way people have taken the ordinary office concept and turned it into their own individual space, take the Selgas Cano architecture office, for example, a perfect combination of the principles for office harmony. This to me helps promote the company, create a positive working environment that helps increase productivity. If you can unite everyone in the common cause to produce top products for your clients, and if you consider the basic points I’ve highlighted in this blog I’m sure you will have a happy, productive workforce.
Author: Liam Coleman is Joint Managing Director at BlueOctopus.co.uk, an honest online recruitment company with a difference. From Yorkshire and proud.