For many of us, the office is where we spend the vast majority of our waking hours. For roughly 45 of them each week, it’s the place we call home, yet more often than not, it feels like anything but.
Cubicles, grey walls, overly efficient air-conditioning and permanently shut blinds are just some of the questionable attributes that characterise many of today’s office spaces, and unsurprisingly, these environs do little to inspire optimal productivity.
Countless studies have shown that we humans are extremely responsive to our surrounds, which can uplift and deflate us in equal measure. As such, organisations have become increasingly attuned to the look and feel of their office spaces, ever more cogniscant of the direct impact they can have on output and productivity.
Ultimately, an uplifting, stimulating environment can have enormously positive ramifications for business, not only in terms of innovation but also when it comes to employee morale. If your office feels like a prison, expect your employees to behave like inmates, desperate to escape at all costs. But if it’s a place that adds real value to their lives, you’re likely to inspire an entirely different mindset within your workforce.
For most organisations, the elaborate nap pods and office playgrounds that have come to characterise some of Silicon Valley’s best-known workplaces are pipe dreams at best, requiring enormous budgets and structural overhauls that simply don’t make sense on an NFP’s balance sheet.
But don’t let that discourage you. Luckily, there are plenty of easy and cost-effective ways to improve your office environment and improve the output and morale of your employees in the process. Here are a few top tips to get you started:
Forget the corner office. Luxury offices and grand furniture can be incredibly bulky and take up an unnecessary amount of space. Apart from the welcome cost saving factor, opting for smaller, more affordable furniture will allow for you to comfortably accommodate more people in your office without it feeling cramped. Smaller desks also allow people who work closely together to feel better connected to one other, something that can boost productivity and enhance collaborative efforts.
Focus on the now
With hopes of expanding, many office managers seek out office spaces with a little extra room for growth. And while it’s great to think optimistically, the reality is that this often comes with many hidden expenses that your company is better off without. Settling into a smaller space nurtures a stronger sense of camaraderie within the team, and will be far more beneficial to your business than an investment in wasted space.
Lift the mood with lighting
Never underestimate the effect of good lighting. A dimly lit office can quickly leave your team feeling miserable and demotivated, so don’t be afraid to let the sun shine in. If you’re relocating, look for a space with large windows, to ensure that a generous amount of natural light can flow into the office. If you’re keen to stay put, you might want to look at ways to invite more Vitamin D into your surrounds, either by creating windows or simply opening up those permanently shut blinds. Natural light is an incredible energiser and can do wonders to improve overall productivity and morale, so make sure you utilise as much of it as possible.
Direct the flow of traffic
Consider the natural flow of feet throughout your space and make sure that you’ve set up your office layout sensibly. Creating straight, unobstructed pathways from desks to meeting rooms, bathrooms and chill out areas will keep your team from getting distracted and save them time when dashing between appointments or taking a trip to the loo. A few seconds saved here and there may not sound like much, but these add up to minutes, and possibly hours, of work time saved over the months and years.
5. Cut out clutter
Mess can accumulate easily in office spaces, with old calendars, notebooks and discarded printouts somehow finding their way into a series of communal dumping grounds. Not only is this clutter unsightly, but it can also actually have a significantly negative mental impact on your team. So make sure to encourage your staff to keep work stations clean and tidy, which will help you to create an environment devoid of unnecessary distractions and infused with clarity and purpose.
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