When your business moves into a new office, one of the first things you’ll want to do is put your own stamp on it to set the right atmosphere for your team.
However, when choosing what stays, goes, or needs to be found, it can be difficult to know where to start when establishing how best to provide your staff with everything they need. This can be very daunting as it can make a lot of difference to the health and happiness of your team.
Nicolas Tye from Nicolas Tye Architects has indicated:
“Employees spend a large proportion of their lives in a work environment, some would argue most of their lives, so the environment in which we are in during this time is ever more important. Natural daylight, air and space are critical but drilling down, how much of these marks the success and failure of a place, furthermore the adaptability of these spaces for the needs are critical in its nature”
With too few open spaces, natural light, or fun activities, hey presto; you have the perfect recipe for disgruntled, uninspired, and unmotivated employees.
“As a Customised Artwork Specialist (artist and decorator with Colour Psychology Cert), and a Graphic Designer who has worked in Advertising for 23 years, I have a unique view of interiors, especially corporate. Art can show the outdoors in a very stylish way that is more conducive to human effort, and it can present both winter and summer colours to help beat that longing for the outdoors.
“Indoor and outdoor colours can be mixed in art, and indeed saturated, to heighten their emotional effects. In Colour Psychology, Green is the most loving colour, also soothing and being receding hue, creating the illusion of more space. In this way, adding indoor plants is a positive move.”
Ready to get the very best from your workforce? Here are our top tips for ensuring the right ambience in your office…
Maximize the space in your office
When it comes down to motivating your employees and improving staff morale, one of the best things you can do is provide a workplace that encourages openness and inspires creativity. But what (exactly) is the best way to achieve this?
Recent years have seen a shift in the way office layouts are structured, with the focus being placed on creating more collaborative spaces that encourage employees to interact.
How can you do this? Like Innocent Drinks, you can seat employees from different teams together, or even implement a ‘hot desk’ policy where everyone chooses a new desk to sit at each day. We’d also suggest arranging your desks in ‘islands’, rather than rows, to help promote a more natural flow of conversation in the office and ensure a more relaxed environment.
David McKay, Environmental Manager at Innocent Drinks, says, “Given that you spend most of your week at work, we try to make it the best possible environment for everyone at Innocent. We don’t sit together in teams, and instead are mixed up. This gives people a chance to mix with different areas of the business, and helps create that sense of community.”
Changing the layout is also one of the steps GoCompare.com have taken to improve their workplace. As their HR Manager, Alex Currie explains: “We’ve recently taken steps to update the offices, providing employees with new technology, furniture, and creating a more open office to prevent teams working in silos.”
Rearranging your office to create more collaborative spaces will also give your employees the room to move around when needed, and this has been proven to boost concentration. One way this can be encouraged is by providing laptops in the office, with the view that these can be taken when your employees need a slight change of scenery.
As most of us probably know, sometimes moving away from our desks can be all we need to clear our heads and help us to get our best ideas!
Get comfy, you may be here some time!
As Alex Currie, the HR Manager at GoCompare.com explains, “Employees spend a large proportion of their week at work, and if the layout or the atmosphere in the office isn’t right, it can have a significant impact on both employees and the company.”
As well as considering the layout of the room, the furniture needs to be functional, but it should also be comfortable; after all, you and your employees will be using it every day! However, before redecorating your office, Emma Deriu, Editor at Rate Comparison, advises: “My best advice would be: make sure your work space is you. If it doesn’t reflect your company, your vision and your style, there’s no point in going to the effort of a refurb. Embrace DIYs and get everyone’s input. If an office space can facilitate your employee’s best work, you’ve done a perfect job.”
If you’re working with a limited amount of space and budget, you could also give employees the option to personalize their workspaces to add a homelier feel to the office. Openly encourage this, and ensure they have enough room to keep personal items on their desks, such as photographs, calendars, and any small knickknacks.
“Investing in things like the work environment is critical to keeping happy employees.”
Lift the mood with the right lighting
Although choosing stylish furniture is a great way of making your office your own, it’s just as important to make sure the team has the right lighting. As well as making it easier to see (which reduces headaches and the risk of workplace accidents occurring), ensuring a source of natural light will boost concentration, improve productivity and result in a more positive mood in the office.
The easiest way to ensure this is by keeping all windows clear to let in as much natural light as possible.
However, be mindful that SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder) also effects many employees, particularly in the colder months. This can result in persistent low moods, as well as a lack of energy and difficulty getting up in the morning. However, you can continue to brighten up the office by providing staff with their own desk lamps, or just by ensuring there are plenty of lighting sources throughout the office.
Danny, the founder of Costs.co.uk, advises: “A light-filled work environment encourages higher productivity and efficiency, and makes for happy employees. However, modern high-rise office towers are designed to maximise space utilisation, leading to the problem of windowless offices. But you can transform a windowless office by creating the illusion of light. Evergreen Walls lists out a few creative ideas that can be incorporated into a windowless office to brighten up the space.
“Firstly, make the most of the artificial light in your office by installing a mirror or two on the walls to bounce the light around, simulating natural light. If you have space, combine the mirrors with artificial greenery panels to create an even more natural appearance. Secondly, place a lamp behind a bookshelf or furniture to create an indirect glow on the wall, and make it seem like there’s an outside light source shining into the room. Indirect light and greenery complement each other perfectly, making the latter glow even more vibrantly and appear as the real deal.”
Capital Law also agrees with the importance of creating the right environment for your employees to thrive. Paul Clayton, their HR Director, says, “At Capital, we have created a collaborative environment that supports our colleagues and allows them to be innovative.
“Light open spaces, freshly prepared food on-site, weekly yoga class and sports massage are some of the things we provide [to ensure this].”
Get your workforce moving and eating healthily
As we’ve already touched on, getting up and moving is a great way to kick-start concentration, as well as boost productivity in the workplace. Not only that, but adopting healthy eating habits can prevent you from feeling sluggish (we’ve all experienced that afternoon slump!), reduce headaches, and make you feel happier and healthier in general.
So, how can you encourage healthy habits in the workplace? For starters, many offices now stock free fresh fruit, which is something that staff really appreciate as it saves them time and money, as well as providing them with an easy way to snack on fruit rather than unhealthy treats. Weekly fruit deliveries are also very simple to implement, with a plethora of businesses now offering an automatic ordering service.
Want to encourage your team to get moving too? You can always choose sporting activities for team-building days, or even set-up sports teams that get together to play on a weekly or monthly basis. You could also set-up a running club for the less sporty amongst your workforce, or organise morning yoga sessions for employees that are prone to stress.
In fact, some offices have even gone the extra mile by providing treadmill desks so their staff can work and exercise at the same time! Holly Croot, the Marketing Manager at The Treadmill Desk Store, says, “by creating a treadmill hot-desking area with two or three treadmill desks you are allowing your staff the opportunity to move away from their desk and engage in low impact exercise, without the need to break from their work.”
“The positive impact that treadmill desks have can be felt across the workforce with employees feeling more motivated, healthier, and happier while businesses benefit from a reduction in staff sickness and ergonomic spend.”
A point Dimana Markova echos – fitness in the office goes a long way. At inspiresport, we practice what we preach. No pressure.
Support staff and their personal development
To ensure a happy workforce and a more positive working environment, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of providing support to your staff and investing in their personal development.
As Paul Clayton, the HR Director at Capital Law, explains, “Capital Ideas (a monthly thought leadership event with keynote speakers), and Welsh Language classes are additional opportunities for colleagues to learn new skills and subjects not necessarily related to their trade.”
“Financial wellbeing is also important to our colleagues, and we pay for the services of a Financial Advisor to spend time with our colleagues, on site, to help them prepare their finances for the future.”
It’s always worth setting aside some of your time and budget to invest in staff development, and we’d advise openly encouraging employees to think about the skills they want to learn, as well as providing lists of training courses and self-help events they would be welcome to attend. Your business can then give employees the option to use a portion of their working time to dedicate to their own learning and development (such as a day each month).
Have budget concerns? Many organizations, such as The Open University, offer a range of free courses that anyone can access. To further improve working relationships, you could also encourage staff to dedicate time to teaching their skills to other members of their team.
When it comes to your office, it’s important to remember that it’s so much more than just bricks and mortar. By setting the right ambience with on-going training and development opportunities, as well encouraging healthy habits, open working relationships and creative thinking, your business should be well-equipped to ensure it achieves the success it deserves!