Most employees spend at least 40 hours a week at work. In many cases, that number is much higher, so it's especially important to ensure employees are comfortable in their workspaces. Happy employees are more productive -- by more than 30 percent, according to Good&Co -- and feel like their time is valued by company leadership. They also have a 37 percent higher sales rate and demonstrate three times the creative capacity, which means employee happiness can not only improve their lives, but it can also have a big impact on your bottom line.
For employees, work can be a great opportunity for growth and collaboration with peers. In some cases, it can even be fun! Still, the office has a tendency to be a distracting environment where it's hard to accomplish everything on the to-do list. According to Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, it might take workers 23 minutes to get back to work after becoming distracted. This doesn't sound great, but it's even worse when you consider that employees usually become distracted after only three minutes of focused effort.
As a CEO, discovering the amount of time employees spend distracted is probably alarming, but fortunately, there are strategies that can easily be implemented to help curb the issue. Improving company culture to ensure productivity and engagement may be as simple as adjusting the physical workspace.
#1: Altering atmosphere
Start with the basics, like minimizing background noise. Whether it's a phone that's constantly ringing or loud conversations in the background, noises hurt productivity and make concentration more difficult for 99 percent of people. Specific tasks, such as writing, are especially difficult with incessant background noise.
Trying to save on your energy bill during the hot summer months? It may be hurting your bottom line. Keeping room temperatures between 67 and 75 degrees has been linked to a 20 to 50 percent increase in performance. Uncomfortable employees spend their time thinking about how much they're sweating instead of their big presentation at the end of the week.
Perhaps most obvious, a general increase in cleanliness may provide up to a 150 percent boost in productivity. Eliminating clutter throughout the office will improve organization while making work more enjoyable for everyone.
#2: In-depth evaluation
The next step is to look at specific areas in more detail, analyzing everything from the furniture employees use to the location of the bathrooms to print areas. Trendy tech companies these days are opting for open floor plans in emulation of titans such as Google; however, just because a design works for one business doesn't mean it will work for yours.
Don't stop your evaluation at just offices, either -- social spaces are also workspaces, so include them to address areas with their collaborative functions in mind.
#3 Collaborative environments
Cubicles are often counterproductive because they isolate individuals who should be functioning as teams. Ditch the cubicles, and divide teams into pods instead.
Shawn Freeman, founder and CEO of TWT Group, elaborates on the benefits pods lend to customer service effectiveness: "Each pod is assigned clients, and the pod's technical account manager has the unique ability to craft IT solutions around clients' needs. This builds a personal rapport that wouldn't be possible with packaged, cookie-cutter services. Our podular culture has fused us into agile, tight-knit teams...Our teammates know they have autonomy and authority to take charge. Their actions have noticeable results on the bottom line, too."
Compartmentalizing workers into cubicles is ultimately a hindrance. Instead, group employees together whose roles support one another to allow teams to function more smoothly. Your clients will notice the difference.
#4 Themed spaces
Giving breakout rooms a theme allows employees to enter a different environment when they step away from their desks. The result? Better capacity for brainstorming and other creative thinking.
Underground Elephant's "Schoolhouse" room features a full-length mural styled in the colors of the Lannister family of "Game of Thrones," while its "Bunker" has the feel of a speakeasy and is hidden below stairs. Groupon's Chicago office features a "tiki room," and some of its breakout rooms are island-themed to promote relaxation.
#5 Asking employees
If your company has promoted a culture of openness and honesty, asking your employees how they feel about their workplace is one of the best ways to get ideas for renovations. Find the things they like, and develop those features elsewhere while redesigning the areas they feel are holding them back.
According to research gathered by SnackNation, happy employees drive a company to outperform the competition by a 20 percent margin. The most likely cause for this phenomenon is increased engagement, and the employees most engaged with their companies also happen to be the most satisfied with the design of their workspace. Coincidence? I think not.