A welcoming, pleasant workspace and environment plays a key role in attracting, motivating and keeping talented employees. Prominent corporations such as Google understand this and have set a remarkably high bar of employee support at their headquarters. Google has created a "work campus" that offers everything from free gourmet eateries, nap pods, haircuts and onsite free healthcare.
Very few corporations could build this astounding work place, but every company, regardless of size and revenue, can make little improvements that will go a long way. Companies should consider these nine techniques when developing inspirational and pleasant workspaces.
The comfort of employees inside an office unquestionably influences productivity, satisfaction and even mood. Today, many offices operate in an open-concept office spaces where there are few or no walls or partitions. In this type of office design, incorporating areas of privacy go a long way for a more satisfying work experience. For example, providing an adequate, well-stocked lunchroom that allows workers to get away from their desk to eat their lunch is viewed as an advantage to maintaining employee happiness. Including a refrigerator, microwave, coffee machine and a few other amenities will go a long way to show employees they are valued.
Dcor and Ambiance
Regardless if you are a large law firm or a start-up pet sitting company, a workspace should create a feeling of positive energy. This includes allowing employees to tastefully add personal touches to make their workspace reflect their individual style. Family photos and a piece of art not only enhance the employees experience during their hours at work, but can also create camaraderie among the staff. For example, a photo of a T-Ball team may find moms bonding over a conversation of being in charge of game time snacks.
Let the Sunshine In
Since the majority of office workers spend their time at the desks in front of their computers, ideally, all employees would work in a space with natural light. For most business, that is simply not feasible. Lighting makes a significant difference in performance and mood for employees at all levels. A well-lit office with softer lighting instead of hospital-style fluorescents can keep employees energized throughout the day and avoid eyestrain and even headaches.
What Did You Say?
In any office, there is noise from a multitude of sources. And open offices present quite a challenge to balance productivity with conversation between employees, phone calls and other distractions.
Although employees may utilize noise cancelling headphones or earbuds while listening to music, these can be cumbersome and may actually hinder work output.
One solution is to consolidate the noise of the high traffic areas (conference rooms, lunchroom, reception, etc.) to minimize disruption to individual workplaces. It may also help to separate open workstations with enclosed spaces to contain the noise. Too many open workstations create a feeling of overcrowding and interruption of tasks.
Write It Down
Think out of the box and discover some new ways to make your office friendlier. Communication is vital to success in any business, but constant meetings are simply not practical. Consider a chalkboard or whiteboard in a strategic area where only employees (not visitors) are located. On the board list the weekly or monthly goals of the company. Just assure the objectives are attainable and that they are written in colors using positive and encouraging words. As each milestone is met, highlight the accomplishment on the board to reward the achievement.
A Desk for All
Everyone works differently. Find room in your office budget to provide tools that create a satisfactory and ergonomically pleasing workspace to accommodate employees. Allow workers to choose sitting or standing desks and exercise balls instead of traditional office chairs.
Communal areas away from individual desks provide an untraditional place for employees to gather that naturally lends itself to collaboration and creativity. The best are informal spaces that feel more like a lounge (with soft furniture) and less like a boardroom (with a heavy mahogany table). Great ideas often come from impromptu meetings that take place in casual and inspiring spaces.
Access to Nature
It isn't possible for every office to have an atrium or a large greenspace outside the front door. However, there is scientific proof that flora increases work efficiency and lowers anxiety. In a study done at Washington State University, when plants were added to the workspace, the subjects were more productive (12% quicker reactions on the computer task) and less stressed (systolic blood pressure lower). They also reported feeling more attentive when the plants were present. The ability to include greenery in the office has clear benefits on output, and helps provide cleaner air as a bonus.
Gallup's recent data revealed that, "Adults employed full time in the U.S. report working an average of 47 hours per week, almost a full workday longer than what a standard five-day, 9-to-5 schedule entails. In fact, half of all full-time workers indicate they typically work more than 40 hours, and nearly four in 10 say they work at least 50 hours."
With almost more time spent at work than anywhere else, it is essential that a pleasant and pleasing workspace greet employees.
But it isn't all about good food and good benefits. Creating a positive place to work involves intangibles as well. Positive reinforcement, a simple smile or showing appreciation with an unexpected "thank you" will spread happiness and create a more pleasant workspace for you and your co-workers.