While many business leaders are customer-focused, the best leaders also recognize the importance of their employees, acknowledging that an employee's health and attitude affect his or her job performance.
There's one key to setting your team members up for success that you might be overlooking: the very space in which they work. An Australian study published earlier this month found that just using sit-stand desks can improve your team's health. The researchers estimate that this simple furniture swap could save 7,492 "health-adjusted life years" thanks to its role in preventing obesity-related diseases.
Physical space can have a big impact on not only your employees' health but also their ability to do their job. People are easily distracted -- even being in an area that has a lot of foot traffic can easily take their eyes and focus off their work. So if a quick scan of your office reveals a space that's crowded with clutter and cubicles, you have some changes to make.
Improving your company's physical space doesn't have to mean renting a sleek, new office in an expensive high-rise downtown. Instead, simple actions can drive results and have a tangible impact on your bottom line. If you're looking to revamp your workspace and help set your employees up to succeed, start with the following areas.
1. Create an active workspace.
It's no secret that walking is good for your health, and research suggests that it can actually help people come up with creative and novel ideas. The design of your office space can encourage that movement through simple things like adaptable furniture and having centralized trash cans and printers to make employees take a few extra steps during their workday. To help your team thrive, make sure your physical space encourages movement and creates an atmosphere that keeps workers happy and productive.
Varidesk, a company that focuses on active workspace furniture, even argues that there's no place for the cubicle in the modern workspace, and I strongly agree. Furthermore, I see sit-stand desks, like the ones that were the focus of the Australian study, as one of the most innovative upgrades you can make to transition your office into an active workspace. With an office design that includes sit-stand desks and a floor plan meant to encourage movement, you'll likely see your sedentary office culture shift.
2. Don't let your employees roast -- or freeze.
Depending on your location, you may try to minimize costs by nudging the thermostat up a couple of degrees during the hot summer months. The problem is, this gambit might actually be costing you more. You need to view maintaining a proper air temperature as an investment in your team rather than an easy area to cut expenses.
Numerous studies illustrate that increasing employees' comfort level via your building's heating and cooling systems can improve productivity by between 5 and 15 percent. That's because a proper temperature allows employees to focus more on their work and less on feeling uncomfortable. Your employees may disagree about what temperature is most comfortable for the office, so seek (and attempt to balance) their input and consult the research. While stifling heat will likewise stifle productivity, no one works well in meat-locker temperatures, either. In fact, one study showed that when the office temperature fell too far below 77 degrees, efficiency decreased.
3. Color their world.
The color of the walls and office decor is becoming an increasingly important consideration for businesses, as more leaders recognize that the right color palette can positively impact employee happiness -- which in turns boosts productivity. Unfortunately, it's not quite as easy as slapping a new coat of paint on the walls.
Each color has potentially thousands of shades and appears differently depending on a room's lighting. To make matters even more complicated, introducing a second color changes everything, because it will either complement and heighten the first color or clash and make them both look unappealing. As a general rule, don't use all colors on a spectrum because the eye will find that predictable and dull. It's also important to consider company branding; be sure to choose colors that will coordinate with your company's logo.
Customers are vital to your business, but without your employees, you wouldn't be able to serve the customers you have. While it might seem obvious that taking care of your team is important, the influence your physical office space has on your team members may not be as apparent. As a company leader, it's your responsibility to create a space that maximizes your employees' potential and minimizes distractions, and these three areas are excellent places to start.