From interior designers to business managers to psychologists, there’s a lot of disagreement in the discussion of what in fact makes for a productive work environment. Modern business culture ( particularly attitudes from start-ups ) have allowed for a lot of unconventional approaches to office designs and practises. In fact, the traditional office has effectively been revolutionized in recent years thanks to some interesting ideas about human psychology and their implementation in work models. So while there’s no exact consensus on the most effective approach – why not read some of the below suggestions to gain inspiration for how you can make your own office a more productive, happy place?
Open plan vs closed plan
The classic debate – are we more productive when given privacy and peace in our own cubicle space, or does the shared table layout allow for better creativity and teamwork? Well, let’s look at the arguments for and against. Supposedly, the downsides of open plan offices are that they’re more likely to cause distractions and disturbances.
Enclosed working spaces, meanwhile, might lead to uninspired work or boredom. The solution, for some, is to combine the two styles of working. Make sure that your office has private working spaces for the more introverted of employees, so that they may work undisturbed and in comfort. Be sure also that there a few meeting rooms or lounges in which projects can be completed together as a team.
Casual vs smart
In some places, casual dress is not an option. If you’re part of London’s most prestigious law firm or New York’s most luxurious estate agency then dressing very smartly is simply a non-negotiable part of the job.
For the start-ups of Silicon Valley or in most Scandinavian offices, however, the argument is that dressing casually helps employees feel more comfortable at work – subsequently increasing productivity. Consider relaxing the dress code or at least introducing a ‘casual Friday’ to give employees a day off ironing their shirts.
Google has installed basket courts, pool tables, arcade machines, slides and ball pits in its offices around the world, giving the more playful of its staff a productive break whenever they need one. Playtime is becoming an increasingly valued part of the modern work day, as short bursts of energy in regular intervals can help concentration in the long-term.
Organized events like board games or pool can also be effective and make for common office activities in progressive tech companies. Giant poker sites like PokerStars and 888Poker host regular after-work poker games for their employees as a means of instilling loyalty and strengthening colleague relationships.
Casual (and regular) meetings
Few things make an employee feel more valued than having his or her opinions listened to, and his or her ideas considered. Open discussion, in which feedback can be given and debate can be stirred, will result in a healthier, happier and more trusting workplace. Try not change office protocol, or plan for team events, without consulting employees first. Decisions are better made when everyone can contribute or at least make their voice heard.
A clean, well-equipped kitchen makes for a happy, satiated office. Consider that people are all the time leaving home in a rush without eating breakfast, or forgetting to grab lunch because they’re so immersed in their work. Offering a number of drinks and snacks will help keep employees hydrated, energized and happy.
Breakfast is also a great time for employees to chat with other colleagues, come to feel more awake and brace themselves for the day ahead. Simply offering croissants, muesli, snack bars or toast for employees in the morning could make all the difference to their productivity and happiness.
So you can get on board with offering employees discount gym membership rates or other health benefits – but actual equipment in the office? It’s not as weird as you think. In fact, it makes perfect sense not just in that it keeps employees fit and healthy, but also because the exercise can be combined with work.
Many experts have warned that sitting down for extended periods of time is as dangerous for us as smoking. Sedentary work leads to decreased blood flow, clogged arteries, weight gain and back problems amongst numerous other issues.
By introducing ‘walking desks’ ( a desk installed above a treadmill ) or ‘desk cycling’ ( an under-desk pedal machine ), employees can get their cardio in while checking their morning mail. Since exercise is also known to elevate moods and increase energy levels in the long-term, you might find your office has a boost in productivity from this new equipment too.
Aesthetically pleasing interior
A cluttered place leads to cluttered minds. While it’s obvious that an office should always be as organized and clean as possible, there are lots of other ways you can spruce up its appearance to increase happiness and productivity levels. Ensure that there is lots of natural sunlight as this will help elevate moods – just like plenty of fresh plants will.
Colours should be cool and relaxing – yet interesting enough to stand out. An office with a unique colour scheme makes a better impression than one with dull and uninspired interior. Decorate with pieces of art that fits the company’s work and ethos while keeping employees feeling inspired, creative and motivated.
Whether it’s the final completion of a strenuous month-long project or the exceptional work of a particular employee – celebrating the big and small things goes a long way in boosting morale around the office. It allows employees to take a step back and really consider their achievements, feel proud to be part of the team, and happy for the celebratory speech, champagne, cake or full-on party.
Organized filing books, neat notes or nicely annotated graphs go a long way in helping projects run smoothly and keep employees organized – but people sometimes need to be prompted. Fine quality pens, multi-coloured post-it notes and writing pads should be plentiful – and their usage encouraged. Make sure there is a well-stocked cabinet filled with everything an employee might need to keep their desk, equipment, notes and files neatly arranged and looking good.
The unique quality
Your office could benefit from one unique quality that no other company has. It doesn’t matter if it’s strange or nonsensical – employees will appreciate feeling part of the club. Whether it’s a Monday morning chant, a particular prank, nicknames or traditions like ‘Thursday Pizza’ – offering a unique perk to working in your office gives employees a stronger sense of loyalty.