You spend about 40 hours per week at the office. Aside from your house, your workspace is probably the next single space where you spend the bulk of your time. So, what is your workspace like? Have you made your desk your own? Do you have photos of your family, personalized folders, and an organized desk?
According to Herman Miller, and many other studies, the single-most important attribute of a workstation is an office that is comfortable. Work environments play a very important role in job satisfaction; a comfortable and satisfying workplace benefits both the employer and the employees. Read on to see how you can make your workplace feel like home and increase employee productivity while you’re at it.
1. Keep the Temperature Comfortable
According to ASHRAE’s Standard 55-2013 study on thermal environmental conditions, temperature plays an important role in productivity. When a working environment is too hot or too cold, employees can find it difficult to concentrate. Not only that, but, according to another study, temperatures that are too hot or too cold can lead to illnesses.
Susan Lang conducted experiments on temperature in the workplace and found that the optimal temperature for productivity is 77 degrees, rather than the widely thought of 67 degrees. In her experiments, she asked employees to work at monotonous keyboarding tasks. The employees working at 67 degrees performed the task 54% of the recorded time and had a 24% error rate. The employees working at the same task at 77 degrees performed for 100% of the recorded time with only a 10% error rate.
2. Incorporate as Much Natural Lighting as Possible
Many studies, including this one from Berkeley, suggests that Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, prevents illnesses ranging from cancer to obesity, to depression. Install UV lighting or skylights in the office to provide your employees not only with an open, natural, airy office, but also to help keep them happy and healthy.
To read more about Vitamin D and its natural antidepressant characteristics, we recommend you read this article.
3. Bring Plants and Other Natural Elements Into the Workspace
Based on Habitat Selection Theory, ecologist Gordan Orians argues that plants in the workplace play into our ancestral instinct for comfort in natural environments. Plants, large open spaces and natural lighting are all part of this theory, and arguably reduce stress and anxiety. Lower levels of stress and anxiety in employees lead to happier individuals and higher productivity.
4. Give Your Employees Some Control
Have you ever walked into a room and saw a flickering light, and then you were so distracted by the flickering light that you couldn’t concentrate on anything else? A Herman Miller Study found that employees often have the same feeling in their workplace. When a workspace is too cold, too dark or too noisy, employees can get distracted. These factors are all common stressors that can translate into simple fixes. As the research paper by Herman Miller states, “…having some control over the workspace can improve comfort and the ability to get work done and reduce stress. This, in turn, can lead to greater productivity and better health.”
So, what kind of control can you give your employees? Ask them what they would change about the office. Talk about room temperature, potential distractions, and what changes they’d like to see.
5. Rethink the Break Room
Does your break room consist of a microwave and a fridge, but not much else? Lacking a social area for employees can be detrimental to productivity. People often bond over food, and many anthropologists suggest that this is the reason why the kitchen is a focal point in our homes. Food is a basic human need that everyone has in common. Therefore, societal bonds are often formed around food.
When employees take the time to congregate in the break room and socialize with one another, they grow more comfortable with their coworkers, as well as their environment. This leads to significantly reduced stress and anxiety, and, in turn, increased productivity.
All in all, an overwhelming amount of research supports the notion that employees who are comfortable in their office space are much more productive. When a person is comfortable in her workspace, she has fewer distractions, feels like she is in control, and her other basic human instincts are fulfilled, she can focus on the tasks at hand and perform much more efficiently.
Making simple office fixes like changing the light bulbs to UV lighting, bringing nature into the workplace, or even renovating the break room all contribute to a relaxed, comfortable environment. This environment is one that is similar to the home and creates a positive atmosphere for happy, productive employees.