Work – for the majority of us it’s a necessity of life. As such an important part of our existence, it goes without saying that it is important that our office environment should be a happy, safe and healthy one.
In an era of not just increasing health and safety legislation to ensure that accidents in the workplace are minimised, but also an ethos of the caring and conscientious employer, a few key considerations can make the working day less of a chore, and more of a positive experience.
Work-related stress remains a primary concern for employers and employees alike. With more constraints on time and finances, stress, depression and anxiety account for the largest number of absence days in the UK according to the Health and Safety Executive. But whilst the current economic climate isn’t under an employer’s control, creating a positive working environment can help keep worker’s happier, calmer and ultimately more productive.
First impressions count, so a workplace that lifts the spirits from the very first moment a worker walks through the door is setting the scene for a day that’s conducive to success. Bright, open working spaces help increase the feeling of being ‘free’, so a worker doesn’t feel trapped within four walls in order to earn a living. The use of colour can be achieved via feature walls, pictures or painted features – these can be related to work without them being overwhelming if they are pitched in the right way. Forget direct messages and targets that can increase the feeling of intensity and pressure, and if wording is preferred, think of calming and uplifting messages that are motivational and inspirational.
A worker thrives on feeling valued, and it is often the small things that make a big difference. Having a dedicated workspace that belongs to one person makes the worker feel relaxed and at home by allowing them to ‘own’ their own space.
Heating and lighting may seem like a pre-requisite, but many workplaces do not give this key area enough consideration. Whilst there may be heating in the winter, the temperature needs to be set at an optimum level for comfortable working, and in the heat of the summer, air-conditioning as opposed to an open window makes for a productive atmosphere. Natural light is nature’s own mood enhancer with desks placed near a window allowing a worker to see life outside of the office space. Artificial lighting should be set at an optimum wattage with light fittings being maintained and dust-free.
A workplace should have good quality facilities such as clean toilet areas and well-equipped kitchens that allow workers to store food and make drinks. Water is known to keep the brain working at its optimum level and a cooled water facility is almost a workplace must.
Many employers are also helping employees outside of the workplace by offering discounted or even free gym memberships and counselling facilities, making the worker feel that their overall wellbeing is being considered as well as helping them keep physically and mentally in shape.