With the advent of quiet quitting and the great resignation still underway, a lot of people are thinking about the current state of workplace standards, norms, and expectations. One category that this reexamination is taking place in is the concept of the office space. The following will explore a few vital tweaks you can make to your workspace in order to have some pretty astounding results when it comes to work performance, company culture, and employee satisfaction.
Why Does This Matter?
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Recent years have seen massive shifts in the workplace. Currently, there is a quiet quitting movement online that encourages employees, particularly young employees, to do the bare minimum at work. The rationale seems to be that companies aren’t looking out for their employees, so there’s no need for employees to burn themselves out over their workplaces.
There’s also an unprecedented number of people leaving their jobs. Deemed the great resignation by some, this phenomenon is also associated with record-breaking workplace dissatisfaction. In a post-pandemic world, too many people are aware of how little their workplaces did for them during the chaos of 2020 and the years that followed. People realized that their workplaces weren’t looking out for their health or their financial well-being and gave up on the idea of working for other people permanently. Many also cited the terrible realization that all this time, they could have been doing their jobs from home, just as well, while not having to sacrifice time with their children or elderly relatives and deal with brutal commutes.
It’s no secret that workplaces need to change if they want to attract high-quality staff and keep them. A huge component of that is going to be combatting the hustle culture that has crept into workplaces, but another facet involves the actual experience of being in the workplace. Environmental psychology is a relatively new field, but the results it’s finding are pretty remarkable.
Put Health First
First and foremost, people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health in order to work for you. This is not a COVID-specific point. This is just as much about all the other stuff. We know now that sitting all day decreases your life expectancy. We know that artificial lighting messes with your circadian rhythm, negatively influencing your hormone health, weight, and mood. We know that indoor air is packed with contaminants that are toxic to the body and cause inflammation making focus more difficult.
Research each component of your employees’ work days and see what changes you can make to improve their health. This might mean getting standing desks or, at the minimum, allowing people to walk around as they talk things through and not judging people for getting up to stretch their legs. It might mean figuring out how to maximise the natural light in your space. It might mean getting air filters (seriously, filter the air; poor air quality zaps people of energy).
No matter what specifics come up in your research, you’re going to want to get plants into the office. Plants clean the air and fill it with oxygen. Having enough oxygen in the air boosts mood, focus, creativity, memory, energy levels, and focus. Plants also look beautiful and classy.
Aim to cultivate a low-stress environment as stress is associated with nearly every chronic disease a person can get. Every time you’re about to make a change, ask yourself if this change will encourage a calm and peaceful environment if it doesn’t tweak it until it does.
Don’t Forget Aesthetics
Your employees will end up giving you one-third of their life if they work for you throughout their adulthood. That’s a huge gift that deserves huge rewards in return. Look for ways to beautify your office (this also impresses clients who pop in to see how projects are coming along).
When it comes to making things pretty, get prepared to step away from the traditional modern (called brutalist by some) office décor standards. Opt for classical pieces and elements like ornate rugs that feel good to walk on or victorian-style shutters like the ones from Shuttercraft Ltd. Embrace period aspects of old buildings like fireplaces and opt for earthy-natural colors whenever possible.
One of the major goals of office redecoration from an aesthetic point of view is to get rid of anything that feels institutional and replace it with something that feels homey and comfortable. You want warmth and welcomeness, not cold, empty spaces.
Think About Layout
Studies have been done on the effect of furniture layout, and there’s a lot to be learned. One incredibly simple improvement is to set up desks so that people’s backs are to the wall instead of an open space where anyone can walk by them and peer over their shoulder at their work. Humans are complicated organisms that have evolved over the course of thousands of years, and a lot of our more primitive programming is still present in us. While there’s an extraordinarily low chance that a bear is going to be wandering around the office, the ancient human body and nervous system don’t know that.
All it knows is that if its back is open, it needs to devote a portion of its attention to the space behind it, listening carefully for anything that is sneaking up on it. By placing desks so that employees’ backs can be against the wall, you’re freeing up a portion of their mind and attention that can be devoted to other tasks, like their work, since they don’t need to be on guard.
The above information should have pointed out a few easy tweaks you can make to your office space to encourage employee health and wellbeing, which, in turn, promotes work performance, productivity, and employee satisfaction. It also outlined several indicators that these focuses are more important than ever.
There are workplaces all over the world that are struggling to attract and keep employees, resulting in huge losses to the bottom line. You don’t have to be one of those companies. You can be part of the new era of workplace norms. And, as a huge bonus, all of the above information also applies to you while you’re in the office, meaning these steps can also help take care of your health and work performance.