Much of the ideal office set-up comes down to personal choice but research tells us there are formulas for success. If office spaces are designed so that workers feel comfortable and happy, both the organisation and its employees will benefit.
The open plan office has been popular for the last few decades but it has lost some favour in recent years. There’s the perception that open offices improve collaboration, communication and productivity. But research actually shows the opposite. One study found workers in an open plan office have 70% fewer face to face meetings and send 56% more emails to colleagues than those working in offices.
It seems being constantly surrounded by colleagues makes us less inclined to interact. Workers wear headphones, avoid eye contact and choose digital channels to communicate. It’s this lack of face-to-face communication that impacts productivity. Whereas, working in small offices or cubicles can encourage workers to come out of their space to meet and converse face to face. COVID-19 may mean the demise of the open plan set-up in some organisations.
Following on from the pandemic, some organisations are continuing to offer work from home as an option for employees. Remote workers are reporting high productivity rates with fewer distractions and a better work/life balance as they shelter at home to work. As an organisation, you could consider offering flexible work hours to help boost employee wellbeing and productivity.
Introducing a little bit of nature to your work area is a great way to easily improve wellness in the office. Natural materials and organic patterns are shown to promote mental alertness, energy and productivity. A few indoor plants can make all the difference. Even a large photo or artwork of a landscape can help with wellbeing. Try placing your desk in a position that allows you to see out a window to enjoy the view of a tree or the garden. If you look at a screen most of the day, try to take a few seconds to look outside at long distances to promote eye health and reduce stress levels.
Nothing beats leaving your desk to take a walk in a natural setting with a dose of fresh air and a little sunshine. Try going for a walk at lunch time or eating outside to get some fresh air. Set a timer if the hours seem to slip by without taking a break from your desk.
Research shows if you don’t feel comfortable while you work, you won’t be as productive as you could be. A survey of 136,000 workers in 2015 identified the three most important features for an effective workspace as a comfortable desk, chair and temperature control.
If you work in an office, you end up spending a good portion of your time sitting at your desk. If your equipment is old and uncomfortable, look at upgrading it to ergonomic office furniture. Equipment that helps you maintain a good posture throughout the workday will reduce the chance of an injury and promote comfortable work. The best setup for healthy office work is to alternate between the sitting and standing positions throughout the day using a sit stand desk. Your office environment also matters, so try to work in plenty of natural light, with good airflow, heating and cooling.
With the increase in remote working and working from home, some employees feel they can’t escape work. Having a designated workspace helps keep a separation between work and home life. When you work in the living room and try to relax in the same space at night, you’re more likely to continue thinking about work long after you clocked off.
Putting your laptop and papers away in a drawer at the end of the workday can help your mind switch from work to personal time. But ideally, set up your workstation in a study or spare room so you can close the door on your work each night.
It’s not only frustrating looking for a pen when you need one, but your disorganisation is wasting valuable time. Have a place for everything and take those extra few seconds to put things away when you finish using them.
The same goes for digital organisation. Keep your desktop neat and your inbox tidy so you’re able to find the document or email when you need it. You’ll feel less stressed and more in control when you’re organised.
Spending time and money on an ideal office setup can pay dividends. If you save just a few minutes every work day, it adds up to significant productivity improvements over the year. And when you feel happy and productive at work, you’re more likely to enjoy good mental and physical health which is priceless. For more information about how you can improve office wellbeing and productivity, enquire about our employee wellbeing programs.