30 Oct Light the way to a happier workforce
Every year, the average worker in the UK takes around 16 days off work. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re seriously ill, suffering from the flu, or just fancy a day on the sofa. The point is, they’re not where you need them to be. Dealing with absenteeism is an entirely different conversation, but there are concrete things that you can do to make the workplace more appealing (and therefore more productive) for your employees.
- Invest in LED lights
You don’t have to be one of the millions of people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder to reap the benefits of LED lighting. Bright lights boost productivity and can have a significant impact on well-being and morale. By imitating sunlight, LED bulbs can lessen depression, boost energy levels, and decrease stress. Money invested in superior lighting will pay dividends not only in employee satisfaction, but through a welcome reduction in your energy bill.
- Share the controls
The debate over open-space offices, cubicles, and the power of a door that can actually close has raged on for decades and will likely carry us through to the next century. In the meantime, most people agree that there’s a certain loss of personal preference that comes with working in a shared space. Especially in a small office, the temperature, lighting and desk configuration tend to run on a one-size-fits-all basis. By switching to LED or relying on spot lighting that targets smaller zones, employees can recapture some measure of control over their immediate environment. The same can be said for providing space heaters and keeping the ambient temperature at a lower level. Let’s face it, it’s nice to know that your employer trusts you to regulate your own body temperature…
- It doesn’t all have to match
Studies have shown that messy offices lead to the impression, accurate or not, that more work is being done. That the creative juices are flowing. That’s not to say that you should decorate with boxes, reams of paper, and overflowing rubbish bins – but everything doesn’t need to look like a page out of Office Beautiful (with the exception of your public-facing spaces). Let people pick out their own office furniture and you’ll find that they’ll be more comfortable, relaxed, and productive. Set a budget, and let your employees decide for themselves what kind of chair and desk best suits their needs. Embrace individual tastes and your office will really rock the quirky / office chic look.
- The office parlour
A lot of work gets done waiting for the kettle to boil, but many of those impromptu conversations are cut short because there’s nowhere to sit comfortably and explore the issue. You’re still going to want a boardroom or conference table for larger or more formal gatherings, but make sure there’s a quiet area in the office where people can just sit and talk. A couple of armchairs invite team members to share their ideas informally, get to know each other better or deal with a challenge before it becomes a problem. A dedicated space to exchange thoughts also cuts down on those edge-of-the-desk conversations that tend to disrupt others who are trying to concentrate.
- Go for the art
Most large cities have art banks, where you can rent original pieces for a nominal monthly fee. Rotating what goes on the walls every few months refreshes the room while giving the office an air of distinction. Invite your team to take turns choosing the artwork. You’ll find most will enjoy the opportunity and feel a greater attachment to their work space.
What all of these tried and tested suggestions have in common is the need to make your team members feel like they have a certain ownership of their work environment. You can still maintain guidelines and control of the budget while allowing people to feel as though their individuality hasn’t been left at the door when they come to work. As an added bonus, you’ll find that clients are more relaxed in a less formal setting, and they’ll appreciate the benefits of being assisted by a team who look happy and at ease there.