Learn how to motivate your staff by improving their environment

Seven tips to ensure you get the most out of ‘Improve Your Office Day’

Joe Wedgwood Best Practice

Does your chair creek every time you shift your weight? Are the beige walls starting to be a real downer? Is the coffee-stained carpet getting tiresome? Well worry not, as today is national Improve Your Office Day.

Improve Your Office Day is the perfect excuse to tap into the innermost designer within to make some positive changes to your working environment. A revamped office can help to attract and retain staff and also improve efficiency through productivity and staff cohesion.

It all relates to social investment; which is an act of investing in your staff to positively impact your workers and improve your business in the process – if you invest in your staff then they will invest in you.

In the spirit of the day we teamed up with office design and build specialists Studio 11 so we could pick their brains. We asked Paul Bateman, Head of Design what current trends there are in office refurbishment – he had a lot to say on the topic; “Interestingly there is a high demand for creating university inspired working environments. Companies are trying to attract and retain talent straight out of university and many students are used to the modern hot-desking approach that promotes flexible working. These non-corporate office style designs are increasingly more popular because businesses need to be agile to keep up in competitive markets.”

We probed them further and requested they provide us with some of their favourite office improvement tips to go with our own. Some are quick and easy, whilst others may require serious investment.

1. Grab some greenery

An office boasting vibrant greenery will convey a positive image to your visitors and also have some psychological and physical benefits; plants help to combat stress, decrease contaminants and can even reduce noise levels by minimising sound reverberations to change the acoustics of the room.

Scientists from the University of Exeter recently undertook a study to investigate whether plants can have a positive effect on the workplace. Their results suggested that plants make staff happier and more productive and can also “increase productivity by 15%.” They added that the implementation of plants “significantly increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality” for their subjects. Not bad eh?

Combine all of that with the (non-scientific) fact that they are aesthetically pleasing, and there is a very strong case to dot a few around the office.

2. Bring the outdoors inside

If you are unable to keep plants, have you considered drawing inspiration from the great outdoors and incorporating them into your office design instead?

Biophillic office designs are becoming increasingly more popular and for good reason too. Put simply they are offices that incorporate nature into their design and tap into our natural affinity with wildlife.

There are many ways you can achieve this without knocking a big hole in your wall. One of the most popular biophillic instalments is full-spectrum lights; which are designed to bring the outside light in and reduce eye-fatigue and tiredness. Full-spectrum lights replicate the full range of colours that are found in natural daylight.

You could also consider changing the furniture and fittings to incorporate nature into the design. How about some jungle-themed wallpaper, fake plants, toadstool chairs or even some artificial turf?

3. The way to a worker’s heart is through their stomach 

This is a topic that’s close to all of our collective hearts – food!

Every culture extends food and hospitality to welcome people to the fold. It also acts as an effective (and tasty) tool to promote communication and cohesion.

You could install a smoothie or cereal-station where you provide the ingredients and the workers do the rest. Or maybe put in a salad bar, or even hire a professional chef who cooks on Monday’s or Friday’s for everyone.

There is one thing that is arguably more important to workers than food…coffee!

There’s nothing more disheartening than being greeted by a morbid tin of instant coffee on a Monday morning. I was recently told a story about a company who rewarded its staff with a luxury coffee machine. This act helped to create an emotional connection with the workers, whereby every time they used it they were reminded that their efforts had not gone unnoticed. It also boosted communication within different departments. Not so much a “water-cooler moment” as a coffee conversation.

4. Get up, stand up 

Do you want to burn calories and improve your posture whilst working from your desk? Standing desks are the answer then. Standing desks are raised desks that ensure the worker has to be standing up to use them…pretty self-explanatory really.

They are increasingly growing in popularity and this is largely due to the amount of evidence which suggests they are good for your health and productivity.

The American College of Cardiology has branded too much sitting as the modern health equivalent of smoking! This seems a bit strong if you ask me, but admittedly I’m no expert and there is a lot of evidence which clearly highlights the health hazards of sitting all day.  

If standing all day is a worrying thought, then you could consider installing adjustable desks that can be raised and lowered at will – this way workers can juggle between standing and sitting throughout the day.

5. Make the most of your workspace 

Why have a chair AND a plug socket, when you can have a chair with a built-in plug socket? Why have a desk and a phone charger when you can have a desk that charges your phone? Introducing the multi-purpose workspace.

Conventionally each part of the office is designed for one purpose. Whilst this is the norm, it isn’t very resourceful and certainly isn’t much fun. Multi-purpose workspaces are designed to maximise your office space whilst supporting everyone’s unique working styles.

Here are some strategies:

  • Transform the seating area into the meeting, presentation or remote working area.
  • Provide laptops or tablets, so your staff can work remotely.
  • Install interactive walls which allow you to draw all over them – that way you’re fully utilising your space… whilst saving a fortune on notepads!

6. It is all fun and games

We can all get bogged down by heavy workloads, stress and deadlines. To counter this you could install a games room.

Providing a common space for workers will boost morale and encourage those who wouldn’t normally socialise to get involved. This will positively impact your company by enhancing the sense of community.

Gaming rooms can also help to reduce stress, boost concentration and increase talent retention – If you create a fun working environment then people will want to stay.

Whether it’s a pool tournament at lunch, a game of table tennis before work, or a quick battle on an arcade machine – office games will help to encourage cohesion and bonding amongst your staff.

7. Sleep your way to productivity 

At this point, you may find yourself feeling a bit sleepy. Well, it couldn’t be more timely as the final thing on this list is the nap pod!

This is the most sought-after, but least installed item on the list. Nap pods are typically used by forward-thinking companies like Google and inter-stellar-overlords NASA, who recently undertook a study into their productivity and suggested that they can “improve concentration by 34%.“

They aren’t exclusively reserved for the world’s most progressive companies though; bakery chain Greggs got in on the act when they built “Napuccino” pods as installations at Potter’s Field in London. The reasoning behind this was their researchers claim that drinking a coffee, then taking a short power nap will increase your productivity and alertness.

Final thoughts 

Our concluding (and most important) piece of advice is that you create an environment that is conducive to the work you do. For example, if you sell coffee then hire a barista. If you build furniture, then showcase your work. If you are a health/wellbeing company, then install some workout equipment to increase activity…

The last thing you want is to send the wrong message to your staff and end up compromising your brand and decreasing productivity. Your workers are your most valuable and expensive resource – so look after them and they will return the favour.

Now you’re armed with all the information, it’s time to put it into practice and reap the benefits of a newly energised office.

 

Joe Wedgwood
Content & PR Executive at The Happiness Index, Joe is a published journalist and blogger with a passion for employee engagement and HR. Previously working as a language teacher, counsellor and content manager at a recruitment agency – Joe has developed a broad set of skills and a strong interest in working with people to learn what makes them tick.

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