How important is work environment when it comes to hiring and keeping healthy staff? It’s probably more important than you think. Recent research published by commercial property consultants Knight Frank highlights that environment is a key factor in helping to recruit and retain the best staff. Is it time you made some updates to our office? This post takes a look at the different aspects you may need to tweak and why…
The layout of the majority of offices is dictated by budget and if you have genuine constraints that mean you can’t afford more space or individual offices for staff then you’re likely to be working with some variation of the open plan office. The problem with this is that not all people are at their most productive or comfortable in open plan offices. In fact, a Swedish study found that staff who worked in private offices were the happiest and one US study found that employees who work in cubicles within open plan offices suffer 29 per cent more interruptions throughout their day. While some people enjoy the interaction of an open plan office others will find it irritating or even intimidating. You can’t please all people all of the time, particularly if you’re working with a small budget but you may want to rethink or zone your layout. Why not test out some small changes on a temporary basis first?
Breaks and nutrition
It’s not terribly unusual now for companies to offer employees a free on-site breakfast along with free tea and coffee, but could you go one step further? Former Google employees regularly rave on this Quora thread about the free food they received in the job. It’s always nice to get a free meal but what made it particularly special was the fact that it made working a little out of the way much more bearable for staff. If your building is a bit off the beaten track could you do something to help your employees?
You might not be able to go as far as installing your own restaurants but subsidising sandwich deliveries or fitting a cereal and juice bar could be options that make staff happier with their daily commute. Investing in quality coffee services for offices is another approachable way to provide great perks for employees. Helping staff to make healthy choices can also have a positive impact, this might be as simple as arranging for a fruit basket to be delivered every week.
Temperature and comfort
If you’re in a room for six to eight hours a day, comfort is important. There’s not a minimum or maximum temperature that work environments need to meet under UK law but it must be “reasonable” and the Health and Safety Executive advises this generally means being at least 16°C, or 13°C where rigorous physical effort may be carried out. It’s common sense that staff will struggle to concentrate if they become too hot or cold, so it’s important to be able to moderate temperature.
The amount of light available can also impact on comfort. Research suggests that individuals who are exposed to little light in their work environment not only get less sleep but have poorer quality sleep too. This is because our sleep rhythm is influenced by natural light. It’s important to note that light produced by standard bulbs differs to natural light, so you may want to better design the flow of natural light through the space. Could you add bi-fold doors to separate rooms and encourage the flow of light?
How is your company building decorated? Is it simple and neutral or does it make use of company branding and colours? There’s a huge amount of research about colours and their influence on people’s moods, which you may want to factor in. If you don’t want to obviously paint the whole office in ‘positive’ colours such as orange, why not choose wall art in the hue? Vanilla Art lets you choose the photographs you want put onto canvas, so you can select images on a particular theme. Allowing staff to personalise their workspace has also been found to have positive benefits, according to research by the Eastern Kentucky University – a greater level of wellbeing is reported by those who are permitted to make additions and amendments to their space with 68% reporting that it improved their work attitude.
How do you prioritise creating a pleasant workplace environment for your employees? Do you think decor and layout is really important or do you prefer to concentrate on organising activities that bond your team?