Start sending the right message to your clients (and staff) the minute they set foot in your office by following the following pointers. It may seem straight forward, but a comfortable, functional and professional business space is vital for your image, as well as your overarching efficiency.
If you’re creating a totally new home office or refurbishing an existing workspace, there’s plenty you should keep in mind. Always remember, productivity and comfort go hand in hand – and this belief should underlie the way you organize and plan an office layout.
1. Keep things comfortable
Want to increase your ability to churn out top value work? Start by ensuring you are comfortable in your office. Good ventilation, natural light (both simply achieved through effective windows), indoor plants… it may not sound like much, but studies have now shown that these don’t just improve work quality, but even improve your general life through things such as increased sleep. It doesn’t take an expert to know that there’s not much worse than feeling stuffy and claustrophobic at work.
Ergonomics is the ever-trending word in ‘office comfort’, and with good reason. Do your research, get some professional guidance, and soon your chair, keyboard and mouse positioning could be doing your body (and work ability) a world of good. Ensuring time to stretch you legs and other muscles throughout the day will also prevent cramping and maintain comfort levels.
2. Not too hot, not too cold
Another aspect in the comfort pie chart is temperature. Baby Bear knew what he was on about – not too hot, not too cold, but just right. If your office has a number of employees in the one space, chances are a cozy temperature will mean different things to everyone.
Instead of fighting over the thermostat, stick to the science behind the situation. It’s been proven that the ultimate productive environment stays between 21.6 and 25 degrees Celsius. In 2004 a Cornell University study analyzed the facts, reaching a crux decision that cooler temps (below 20c) increased work mishaps and typing errors – and as things warmed up to between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, a 150 percent increase was seen in work output, while errors in typing dropped 44 percent.
3. Make time to play
Everyone’s heard the rumours of the mythical fun offices – the type like Google which have games rooms brimming with pool tables and darts, unlimited snacks, sleep pods and other perfect spaces for just kicking back and taking a break. Everyone has hard days at work – the kind where stress
levels are up, everything goes wrong and you can’t seem to stay on task. On “one of those days”, an escape to the Games Room has been shown to bolster morale among staff. Not only this, but the flow on effect is that it also attracts the “hip” and “trendy” younger employee market, the ones seeking out an office environment they can enjoy. Similarly, promoting exercise space and time – like a social sporting team or yoga class – again boosts team bonding, makes people feel energized, and goes to lead to a happier workspace in general.
4. Motivational material
They may have a stigma for being hung on the walls of teenage girls – but motivational posters, quotes and other inspiring visuals certainly have a place in an office, too (and probably a better one). Put your prejudice aside. Browse Pinterest for quotes to share; send out a moving story via the office internal email; hang up words and images that rouse and invigorate viewers. Motivational materials come with potential to be a basic means of decoration, easily able to incorporate bright and vibrant colours that will also improve the moods of those in a workspace. It’s easy to lose motivation when forever working hard – and while it seems small, the tiniest efforts from managers and supervisors will truly go along way.
Don’t go overboard though. Staff will not feel inspired or bolstered should you spend excess funding on posters. Keep it simple, but keep the motivation and positive vibes constantly being sent around.
5. Noise Reduction
Okay, I’ve mentioned that it’s good to be comfortable and it’s good to have fun and feel happy when at work. But a frequent flow-on effect of this collaborative, enthusiasm-filled office is noise. Noise will work to unravel all positive workplace progress, being perhaps the most scientifically reinforced strain on productivity. A Cornell University study survey office workers, finding increased epinephrine (aka adrenaline) among those who worked in low-noise offices. The implication from this is that noisy environments in fact cause higher stress levels. Further studies have shown that this in turn can lead to poor concentration, health issues and general negativity.
So, how can you overcome it? Noise-cancelling headphones work a treat for those performing standardized tasks (who won’t consider music a disruption to their creative/professional flow). In these cases, music can block out distractions and create a pace and rhythm in work patterns.
Office managers and business owners should also provide a quiet space. This does not mean a totally quiet office, rather a separate place for employees to go when they need to be extremely focused. If your office is not big enough to provide this, it may mean allowing staff to work from home as to not be waylaid by phones, conversations and idle gossip occurring around them.
6. Added personality
There’s method behind the “madness” of that guy in the workplace. You know, the one with a desk overcrowded by pictures of his kids and their higgledy-piggledy artworks and achievements. Even if you don’t have the partner and 2.5 kids, making your workspace feel like it’s your own will, in turn, make your work better. If you like art – hang one of your favourite pieces above your desk. Put up a photo or two of your favourite people. Bring in a colourful blanket to drape over you should the air conditioning get icy. Place a plant in the corner. Or simply update your computer desktop to an image that inspires you or makes you happy. After all, many people nowadays spend a lot of time at their desk – it’s worth making it feel homey.
7. Neat is nice
Papers and clutter mean one thing. Distractions. Having ample storage space (and a good system in place to utilize it) will help workers feel more organized, therefore able to perform better because their mind is clearer. A desk should only be a place for the bare essentials: computer, keyboard, mouse pad, coaster, and a few of those aforementioned personalized flourishes. Items such as paperclips, staplers, pens and so on, can all go in an easily accessed drawer.
Also, if you aren’t the boss, being neat and organized is bound to impress your superiors (and coworkers). We all know that never hurts.