In the UK arriving to work early, skipping lunch breaks, and leaving late seem to be normal and - sometimes even expected - aspects of working culture. Stress is therefore extremely typical, and is often seen as an indicator of how hard people are working or how committed they are to their jobs. This is perhaps why wellness has become such a welcome concept and one which many employers have begun to consider within the office.
The importance of wellness is already widely acknowledged throughout the UK, with yoga, meditation, and mindfulness now particularly popular lifestyle choices. Although these cannot be enforced within the workplace, striving to minimise employee stress is generally regarded to be the responsibility of the company.
This doesn’t have to mean installing bathtubs and allowing your staff to wear their pyjamas. There are a number of easy (and realistic!) ways to consider employee wellbeing and promote a healthy approach to the working day.
It may be difficult to introduce dimmed lighting in workspaces, however consider opting for softer lighting in communal or ‘downtime’ areas. Lighting can have a huge impact on the way people perceive certain areas, and dimmed lighting is often associated with the home and other comforting spaces. You should also make sure to provide solutions for any office dark spots, such as offering a selection of lamps staff could use if they didn’t find their desks to be adequately lit.
In addition to having a number of environmental benefits, it has been proven that plants in the workplace can have a positive effect on employee stress levels. Plants such as ivy or cacti are especially low-maintenance, and connecting your employees to nature with even such subtle changes can be hugely rewarding.
In the same way that you’d want your home to be decorated well, good interior design is fundamental to a successful office environment. Offices which look too corporate aren’t particularly welcoming and it’s unlikely that your employees will enjoy spending time there. Playing around with colours, textures, and interesting artwork is a fun way to give the space some character.
Staff rooms and kitchens are supposed to be communal areas, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are ‘social’ areas. Encouraging employees to spend more of their breaks actually socialising in these rooms, rather than sitting at their desks to eat lunch, could be as simple as introducing comfier chairs, larger tables, and a couple of games.
Although background noise can be comforting, office hubbub such as typing, closing doors, and general chatter can be distracting for those trying to concentrate. Instead, playing a CD or having the radio on at a low volume throughout the day can help people feel more relaxed and less aware of noisy disruptions.
People are much more likely to be productive in places they feel comfortable and a large part of this is feeling familiar with your co-workers. Encouraging your employees to get to know each other is a great way of creating a positive work environment, and co-ordinating group lunches is an easy way to do this. This might mean working on your kitchen/eating areas or simply by ordering pizza for the office once a month.
For some employees, staying after work may be something they see as necessary to finish their work on time and perhaps even to display their dedication. Despite this, employees who cut into their own time are likely to feel more stressed and less motivated. Encouraging each worker to leave at the time they’re scheduled to is a good way of promoting a healthy attitude to work.
If your employees are physically comfortable at work they are more likely to enjoy themselves, so comfort should always be a priority within the office. For starters, your desk chairs should have padded seat cushions and armrests and should be adjustable to match the height of your desk. Encourage your employees to move from their desks regularly and to let you know if they feel uncomfortable.
Getting to know your employees is equally as important as them getting to know each other, so consider socialising outside of work hours. Not only will your employees feel more valued but they’re also likely to feel more comfortable approaching you during the work day, which is beneficial to both parties. You could start by organising a work meal or drinks once every few months or for noteworthy celebrations.
Not every office can supply subsidised gym passes, but there are still a number of ways to emphasise the importance of health in the office. This could be by implementing walk/cycle to work schemes or by supplying free fruit in the office kitchen - anything which shows you are actively interested in the wellbeing of your employees.
First and foremost, offices are places of work. Rules, regulations and targets are of course necessary, and results will continue to be the number one priority for employers. However, a focus on targets and competition between businesses has made it difficult for companies to create employee loyalty, and high turnover rates are now commonplace. Employee happiness is fundamental to creating a productive company, so taking the time to make a few small changes to your office could be extremely beneficial.
For further advice on lighting, decor, and optimising employee comfort, contact the team at Saracen Interiors today.