The past few years have been tough for businesses of all sizes. And while there is some evidence that things are beginning to turn around, the recession is still deep enough that upper management is maintaining tight control of their budgets. That means no matter how busy an office and overworked the staff, hiring will still occur infrequently. Since reinforcements aren’t coming down the pipe any time soon, it’s up to you to figure out how to get the most from the people you have. You can’t force longer hours, but you can make the hours spent in the office more productive. In fact, it has been shown that the design of an office could either lead to boredom and low energy or increased productivity. Here are a few tips to make sure your office trends in the right direction this year.
Start by looking at the overall design of the office floor. Most offices consist of some mix of cubicles and small offices. You’ll want workstations to be separated by half-walls at the very least, or fully separated cubicles if at all possible. That will cut down on the ambient noise as well as visual distractions for your staff. You also want to try and configure the cubicles so that people have enough privacy to focus in on their work. If anyone is forced to work right next to reception, the break room or a bank of copy machines, you can expect lower productivity.
Next, consider the comfort of the workers that are putting in those long hours. Are they sitting in uncomfortable, worn out chairs or the latest in ergonomic support? Newer chairs that force them into good posture will allow your staff to comfortably stay at their desks longer, without aches and pains drawing their attention. You should also make sure that the desks are fitted with keyboards at the right height and angle, which can be also be adjusted based on the individual. That way they’ll be able put in the sort of dedicated time required at their computer stations without risking hand or eye strain.
You should also have the air quality tested within the office. Since it is invisible you don’t often think about it, but there could be contaminants in the air, especially in older buildings, that lead to an increase in illnesses. Sick days are wasted days, so make sure the air is clean and properly ventilated. Fresh air will also help your employees focus and remain alert. Along those same lines, think about the quality of the lighting within the office. Artificial light is draining and harsh on the eyes. Try and take advantage of any windows within your layout so that more people have natural light, and bring in natural light lamps if that’s the only way to change things up.
Finally, consider some visual changes that make a big difference. Along with natural lighting, natural fibers have also been shown to improve mood and productivity. Bring plants into the office, and even indoor fountains that send the sound of running water throughout the room. Make sure the walls are painted neutral or soft colors that create calm and focus, and avoid harsh colors that are distracting. These and the other changes could take some time, so never plan to make these adjustments in the middle of a big project. Reconfigure the office design during your slow season so the staff have a chance to get acclimated.