Have you ever thought about how office design could have a major impact on the productivity of a company? The office is the place where workers spend at least eight hours a day and all the money-making magic takes place, so you need to do your utmost to innovate and revamp production techniques. What is more, the working environment needs to be healthy so your employees feel safe and take less sick leave.
These are all reasons enough to try and come up with innovative improvement that you can install in the office. If you are having trouble noticing where the biggest hitches are, then don’t shy away from asking your staff directly because they know best what they need. Don’t immediately dismiss any of their ideas, as a lazy bag instead of the swivel chair, for instance, is not as crazy as it seems. If you can’t come up with any ideas of your own, here's a little help regarding novel techniques to boost productivity and safety in the office.
1. Creativity breeds creativity
If you work in the creative industries, and this is a broad term, then you should try to stimulate creativity. It would be unfair to ask your employees to train their grey cells if they work in a sterile box or an office. It has been proven countless times that a creative office space breeds creativity by lowering the employees’ stress levels and boosting their capacity for innovation.
Posters and vintage items are ideal decoration pieces that will boost creativity. The posters can be of the motivational kind and you can let staff choose the lettering. Anything from “Hang in there” to Winston Churchill’s famous saying that “if you're going through hell, keep going”, would be more than suitable. Furthermore, you have the possibility to hang art pieces on the wall, such as paintings and why not, a tapestry or two to accentuate that homely element of the office.
2. Keep noise levels to a minimum
Offices can get quite loud at times. This is especially true for call centres and news desks, so they could do well with some sort of noise reduction. Loud sounds prevent us from concentrating, so you can say goodbye to productivity if your workforce is distracted by office cacophony. Soundproof walls are the first line of defence against noise distraction. However, it can be costly to make an office for every single employee and not every job can be done within a confined space.
A neat alternative are noise-cancelling headphones that you can afford to equip every worker with. If everybody is yelling around them, employees can turn on the music of their choice and enjoy a melodious song rather than the shouting of their coworkers. Finally, you have the option to play ambient music of a genre that all employees would agree to, which is perhaps the best solution for noise reduction.
3. Fat and happy?
In general, you shouldn’t meddle in the private lives of your workers but their health should be your concern as well. A healthy and physically active workforce is the aim of every conscientious employer so be ready to do your part in the fitness level of your staff. One solution is to give them all free gym memberships which can serve as an excellent incentive for future workers as well. However, even the ability to exercise for free is not motivating enough for some workers so they could end up only going once or not even setting foot inside a gym. You could find a way to motivate them further by arranging a personal trainer or a consultant who can find the right combination of exercise and nutrition (be it carb cycling, functional training or just occasional exercise...).
An alternative to a free gym membership is the creation of a playroom inside the office where you can offer more than a vending machine and a well-stocked fridge. You ought to make healthy foods as desirable as possible and try to change your workers perspective of nutrition slowly, even if it takes one unsweetened chocolate at a time. Any sort of light physical entertainment is more than welcome, such as a dartboard, tennis table or even an anti-stress ball. The idiom “fat and happy” should not serve as the leitmotif in your office.
4. A standing (desk) army
Not all employees get the opportunity to sit at work as many jobs including office ones require people to stand behind a desk for long periods. Check outs and reception desks are another example of job posts that require workers to do their job by standing in one place so you should do your best to ease their work. Nowadays, you can order a durable standing desk mat made from PVC that's specially designed for people who work on their feet. Such anti-stress mats are quite durable so even factory worker’s tolling away at an assembly line can use them.
However, even modern offices, where you would expect chairs and low tables to be the standard, are raising the stakes. Recent scientific studies have shown that standing desks have the potential to raise productivity so it doesn't come as a surprise that office workers are getting up, literally. When you come to think of it, standing up gets your blood circulating, providing more oxygen to your brain so it can fuel its creativity. Of course, the aforementioned standing desk mats are mandatory because you don’t want your standing army to collapse from fatigue and injure themselves.
5. Planting the seeds of success
Luscious greenery is a clear sign that it is being regularly watered, nurtured, and before all, taken care of. Furthermore, the green colour has the potential to calm the human mind, so a nervous workforce will be a thing of the past if you adorn the office with plants. You can have flowers, herbs, climbers and potted plants that you can delegate the most nature enthusiastic workers to acquire.
The plants your workers bring in should be tactfully placed around the office. Instead of building cubicles and dividing up space, both in terms of architecture and social interaction, you can go for an open office plan that is in vogue now. This way, workers will have better chances of communicating with each other and sharing ideas. Yes, they will generate a lot of noise but you still remember what we recommended about this problem, don’t you?
6. Lighten up
In order for the plants to do their magic better known as photosynthesis, they need plenty of love from us in the form of water and plenty of love from Mother Nature in the form of sunlight. In fact, your workforce could equally benefit from the sun’s rays as a well-lit office is a priority for every interior decorator. Unfortunately, many companies rent their office space so they don’t get to have a say in the design of the office they use.
Higher floors are better, in general, because they get plenty of sunlight during the day and the outside glass has properties that allow it to reflect direct sunlight during the summer months. If you carry out any work after dark, then make sure that the entire office is well-lit. LED lights are ideal for large spaces because they are energy-efficient which is reflected in low electricity bills at the end of each month.
7. Get some air
Apart from enough light, the ideal office should have plenty of fresh air flowing inside. We have already pointed out the benefits of oxygen to a worker’s brain but you'd be genuinely surprised if you knew how many offices have stuffy air inside. This is really a health hazard that you should be careful of by installing and upkeeping a reliable and efficient ventilation system. Besides being fresh, the air inside of the office has to circulate throughout the entire space. This is where ventilation and even a simple ceiling fan come into play, by evenly distributing fresh air to every corner of the office.
Basically, running a healthy and productive office to a large extent relies on active participation on behalf of the workers. They know best what innovations are necessary around the office so don’t forget to consult them before installing anything. The 7 techniques we have listed here are an excellent place to start remodelling the office but the list is by no means exhaustive, as over time you’ll discover new techniques to boost productivity.