On average, employees spend over 33 hours a week in the office. The right working environment can have a significant effect on employee morale, retention, health and wellbeing, and productivity.
If employees dread turning up at the office each day, something needs to change. To improve your work environment is essential for ensuring long-term business success.
Cultivating a positive work environment is one of the best ways to ensure employee satisfaction and is, therefore, critical to your company’s success. In this article, we will be sharing the steps you need to take in order to improve your work environment for long-term success.
Improve your work environment by hiring great people
Working environments are affected significantly by the people that work in them. Successful businesses know that cultivating positive work environments begins with hiring the right people. When employees are positive, hardworking, and passionate about what they do, it has a positive effect on the environment they are in.
Hiring positive, driven, and talented people creates a happy work environment that in turn attracts more people in. What’s more, according to Oxford University, happy people are 13% more productive than discontented/unhappy employees.
Happy people help cultivate a happy company culture, so it’s important to invest time and resources into hiring the right people because it can make all the difference to the success of your company.
Declutter your work environment
A cluttered working environment is not helpful for anyone. It is best to keep your workplace clean and well-maintained. And one of the ways you can do this is by decluttering your work environment. It sounds like an obvious point but it’s one that can often get overlooked in businesses where documents, reports, and office supplies tend to pile up.
Increase productivity in the workplace and maintain a professional, clean environment by decluttering surfaces. One of the easiest ways to reduce stacks of paper around the office is by reducing waste and going paper-free.
But that’s impossible, we hear you say! Don’t worry. We live in a digital world. Everything from admin and accounting to monthly reports can be digitised. It takes a little bit of investment in the beginning to get all those paper bits set-up online, but once you’ve gone digital trust us when we say there’s no going back.
The convenience, the reduced clutter, the positive impact on implementing sustainable business practices and the benefit of finding exactly what you’re looking for at the click of the button makes going paperless not just good for the environment but good for the efficiency of your workplace, too.
Invest in high quality lighting
More often than not, the importance of good lighting in the workplace is overlooked. However, investing in high-quality lighting is one of the most impactful changes you can make to your workplace.
Over 40% of workers struggle to work in poorly lit office environments and one third of people reported that better lighting would make them feel happier at work. Investing in high quality lighting solutions can also reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which many people struggle with.
Lighting plays a vital role in employees’ happiness, performance, and mental wellbeing. To improve your work environment, consider how to incorporate natural light into the space.
If natural light is not possible, blue-enriched light bulbs can be a good option as they use warmer, natural tones that help promote calmness. Installing mirrors and reflective surfaces is also a good way to brighten up an office space and welcome in more natural light. The more natural light, the better.
Increase office comforts
A comfortable office is an enjoyable space. While your employees are at the office, they won’t be working every single moment.
Providing comfortable places where employees can sit and relax, pull up a chair and chat with a client, or just take some time to eat their lunch is a great way to improve your work environment.
Increasing office comforts such as sofas, comfortable chairs, sitting/standing desks, and alternative working spaces is a great way to encourage collaboration and help foster creativity. Without these office comforts, employees can often be more stressed and dissatisfied, making hostile work environments likely.
Many offices are re-working their spaces to suit the needs of their employees. This means installing standing desks, designating ‘chill out’ zones, providing quiet working spaces, and building offices specifically for collaborations.
There are so many ways you can make your office more comfortable. And if you’re stuck for ideas, just ask your employees for ideas. They are sure to have plenty of suggestions.
Encourage workplace wellness
“Your employees’ mental health state can vary from person to person, but it is important to remember that all of them need the right support to perform well at their jobs. Maintaining your employees’ mental health is essential both for their well-being and for the success of your business.” – 6Q
Today’s employees know what they are looking for when applying for jobs. Employees want to see a good balance between working and wellness in the modern workplace. After all, wellness has become increasingly integrated into people’s daily lives and, as such, employees expect their employers to provide wellness practices within the workplace.
There are many ways you can do this; through the provision of healthy snacks and drinks, free counselling sessions, physical exercise classes, and more. Incentivising wellness in the workplace is not just a great way to attract new employees in, it’s a great way to ensure your team are the healthiest and happiest they can be whether they’re at work or at home.
Maintain a clean and comfortable space
As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure your office space is clean and well-maintained. It goes without saying that a clean work environment looks professional, is more enjoyable to be in, and helps to reduce sickness. This is true of both the office and the home, of course!
Depending on the size of your office space, you might consider hiring an expert commercial cleaner to help maintain your space to a high standard. Alternatively, you may wish to take care of the cleaning yourself (just be aware this quickly uses up time during the week).
You should also be sure to clear away any clutter or broken equipment and encourage your employees to keep their workspaces tidy.
Provide spaces of retreat
If you’ve ever worked in a busy office before, you know how noisy offices can become. So much so that it can sometimes be difficult to take a phone call, let alone concentrate on the task in front of you. This can make it extremely hard to concentrate, having a negative effect on productivity. As such, to improve your office environment, it can be helpful to provide spaces of retreat.
Consider providing a few areas where employees can go to work in quiet or knuckle down and concentrate on a particularly difficult project. Providing spaces of retreat within your office is a great way to reduce employee stress, increase productivity, and improve mood. Multiple working spaces give the power to your employees, allowing them to choose where they’d like to work.
Google has taken this idea a step further in their offices by providing napping rooms where employees can go to get some shut eye during the working day. Although it might seem a little extreme, providing a space for employees to relax is thought to reduce stress levels and increase productivity throughout the day.
A study by Sleep Advisor found that sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy $411 billion a year. Employees who take a power nap have been found to be up to 2.3% more productive in positions like data entry.
So, if you haven’t already, consider how you can improve your work environment by providing quiet spaces for work or sleep – it just might make all the difference!
Keep the door open
Many managers working to improve work environments for their employees are adopting transparency between office managers and workers. This means implementing an open-door policy where the door to the manager’s office is literally kept open.
Working in this way encourages open and friendly internal communication. It also helps employees feel like they can approach and ask questions of their managers freely, without having to wait to be permitted inside.
Clear, open, and honest communication between managers and employees is an essential element of a successful business. It engages and retains your valued employees, while encouraging and driving positive growth. If you want to grow your company while maintaining open communication, implementing an open-door policy is a must.
Introduce workplace personalisation
It goes without saying that your employees will want to make their workstations their own – and who can blame them! When they will be spending most, if not all, of their working week sitting at their workstations, it’s no wonder they want a desk space that is made to look and function how they want it to.
Introduce workplace personalisation as a step to help improve your workplace environment. This may mean offering employees the chance to choose a sitting or standing desk and the best office chair for their needs, in addition to their choice of office plants and personal items.
If employees are given the chance to customise their working space, they are often thought to feel happier and more ‘at home’ at work.
Even the smallest of changes to a working space can go a long way in motivating employees to work harder, get properly invested in your company, and take more pride in their work. Introducing workplace personalisation is just a small element of this.
Inject bursts of colour into your décor
More often than not, office environments are sparsely furnished and blandly decorated. Something as simple as swapping up office chairs for colourful replacements or adding pops of colour to the walls with vibrant art pieces can help inject some colour into an otherwise bland office environment.
Colours play a big part in how we feel, often inspiring creativity and driving feelings of happiness. For example, studies have found that blue and green workspaces are thought to boost productivity and sharpen focus, while yellow can help foster creativity.
Whether you want to promote a soothing effect, inspire fun through vibrant colours or patterns, or boost the creativity of your team with sunshine yellow – there are so many ways you can incorporate pops of colour into your work environment.
Introduce new scents
This may seem like an out-of-the-box suggestion, however, introducing new scents into your office space is a great way to increase employee performance. This is because it is thought that certain smells can motivate employees by making them feel more relaxed at work and therefore more productive.
Introducing new scents into the workplace is a cost-efficient way of improving your work environment. Simply mix a few drops of your favourite essential oils with water and you’re good to go.
Even big brands like IKEA are using scent diffusers in their showrooms to help stimulate the senses and encourage consumers to feel more positive in their buildings. It’s a little bit out-the-box but you’d be amazed how much introducing new scents can improve your work environment.
Add life to your workspace with plants
Introducing greenery into your office space can make the world of difference in transforming your environment. Not only are plants a great way to cleanse the air in your office by absorbing contaminants, but they are known to reduce stress levels and improve the well-being of employees.
We recommend opting for low-maintenance potted plants that don’t require much care or attention to thrive.
There you have it! We feel very confident that the tips above have provided you with some great ideas of how to improve your working environment. And don’t forget, if you get stuck and you want to make changes your employees will love – just ask!
Employees love to have a say in company changes and improvements. So, be sure to involve them in the process because you never know what they might suggest!
About the Author
Gemma Hart is an HR professional working remotely with a passion for sharing advice on how to grow a sustainable workforce. Since graduating, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts. Connect with Gemma on Twitter: @GemmaHartTweets.