How many hours a day do you and your co-workers spend in the office? How many hours does that add up to over the year?
Now, take a moment and look at your office. Walk around the larger space that your company occupies and that your co-workers spend so many hours of their lives working within. How does it make you feel?
Physical environment has a significant impact on our mood, our outlook, and on our productivity. But few companies place enough emphasis on the creation of a physical workspace that is comfortable, rejuvenating, inspiring, and healthy for the staff.
Instead, the physical environment is a place to put desks, computers, filing cabinets, and whatever else is necessary to keep the business running. But the most important asset for any business is the staff. If the physical environment is negatively impacting them, then it is also negatively impacting your business.
While a major renovation of your company space would be great, it might not be in this year’s budget so what can you do quickly and on a smaller budget that will improve the quality of your workspace?
And yes, this also applies for those of you who work at home.
Too much beige, off-white, taupe or any of those bland neutral colors can suck the life from your soul. Yet they are the go-to colors for office wall color.
A study done by the University of Massachusetts found that adding color to the office reduces stress, increases creativity, enhances morale, and encourages discussions and expressions of opinions.
You don’t have to re-paint your entire office to embrace the benefits of color. Break up the neutral wall paint with splashes of color throughout your office.
- Paint accent walls throughout your space with bright, vibrant color that draws the eye and makes everyone smile.
- If your lease doesn’t allow you to paint the walls, then hang large colorful wall-hangings. You don’t have to spend a ton on fine art to get color on the wall. You can buy colorful fabric, cut it into large shapes, and pin them to your walls. Be creative, think outside the (beige) box.
- Put color on the floor instead. Bright carpet runners — in patterns or solids — add not only color but also texture to the workspace. You can buy stock items or you can buy custom carpet runners with inspirational words, employee names, or images of your products — you are limited only by your own imagination.
Natural light refreshes us and invigorates us. Is there enough natural light entering the workspace?
Dark, poorly ventilated workspaces increase absences and decrease worker productivity. It’s bad for your business.
If you can add more natural light to the workspace, you can increase employee satisfaction which decreases absence rates and increases productivity. Stripping dusty blinds and curtains from the windows is a start but not all office spaces have access to enough natural light.
If you don’t have enough windows or there are obstructions preventing the light from spreading — anything from walls and offices inside to trees and other buildings outside — then invest in high quality lighting.
Overhead fluorescent lights have been shown to inflict eye strain, headaches, and even anxiety in workers forced to endure long hours beneath their glare. Turn off the overheads and turn on softer, healthier lighting with floor and desk lights throughout the workspace.
3.Give Life to Your Workspace
Plants not only add brilliant color to your workspace but they also help clean your air and provide you with fresh oxygen. Plants have been shown to increase cognitive awareness and clarity when added liberally to our living spaces. Why should your office be any different?
Here are some easy-to-care-for plant recommendations you can find at your local nurseries.
- Snake Plant — tough and perfectly sized for desks, tabletops, and on top of filing cabinets.
- English Ivy — simple to grow and the trailing tendrils will soften the hard lines of cubicles.
- ZZ Plant — dark green succulent that thrives in low-light (it’ll live just fine under those harsh fluorescent bulbs.)
- Philodendron — another hard-to-kill trailing plant with bright green leaves. Great for placing up high where the heart-shaped leaves can hang down.
- Parlor Palm — dwarf tree perfect for breaking up spaces and filling empty corners.
- Weeping Fig — another floor tree that is great for filtering pollutants from your carpets and furniture. The bright, waxy green leaves add vibrant color.
As you walk out of the office each day, just dump the water left in your water bottle in these plants and they will thrive.
Make your company Vision or Mission visible and a part of your work environment. Too often these critical company statements get filed away even though they are supposed to guide and inspire everyone in the business.
What accomplishments — both company-wide and employee-specific — are you particularly proud of? Why not literally splash them all over your workspace? You can easily add printed graphics through the office in many forms.
- Stencil them on your walls. Hire a graphic artist student from the local university to turn your walls into inspiring artworks.
- Laser-etched wall-hangings. Sign-makers can now laser etch words into metal to create long lasting, beautiful wall hangings.
- Custom carpet runners and mats. Not only do they add soft textures to your workspace, customer carpet runners and mats can inspire with your logo, vision, or brand values.
Help your employees personalize their workspaces. I’m not talking about hanging family pictures on the dull gray walls of their cubicles. I’m talking about selecting their workstations — desks, chairs, organizers, etc. I’m talking about adding their own color — personalized area rugs, wall colors, plants, etc.
It is very hard to feel like you belong and you are valued when your workspace screams “cog in the machine.” If you don’t want pictures taped to the walls, then give your employees personalized pin boards, picture frames, and other ways to incorporate personal items without making the office look messy and unprofessional.
You can make inexpensive, easy changes to your company work environment this week that will help boost employee morale and productivity. The important thing is to not underestimate the importance of physical space — we want to feel comfortable, energized, and inspired by where we work.