Stressful business? 5 Smart Office Design Tips To Help Your Employees

Do you think your staff suffer unacceptable long term stress levels at work? Do you know the signs? Aggression amongst workers, increasing amounts of sick days taken, irritable personnel, disinterest and dropping productivity, all point to an overly stressful working environment. According to SafeWork Australia’s report of three years ago, Australian businesses are losing over $10 billion dollars per year due to workplace stress – and that figure is increasing.

If you feel chronic stress may be becoming a problem amongst your workforce, here are five ideas which may help alleviate the situation.

Natural Light:

Research by the medical profession and various industry bodies has shown natural daylight has a positive effect on peoples feeling of wellbeing. Glass is playing an increasingly large part in today’s modern building design – and with good reason. With an increased feel-good factor amongst a workforce, productivity can increase by up to 10%. Positive test results amongst students studying in modern schools and colleges that spread lots of natural light, have improved by up to 25%.

Open up your premises. Increasing window size and adding skylights might be an option. Incorporate an all glass entrance way to reception, and tear down all those solid partitions and replace with glass dividers, allowing natural light to diffuse throughout the building. Redecorate the interior in light pastel shades, but not just any shade. Colours can have a large effect on creativity and productivity.

Flexible Workspace:

Thirty years ago open plan was the way to go. Then it was realised that one size didn’t fit all. Flexibility in workplace planning is the byword. Go open plan, with the inclusion of moveable partitions. Include workstations which can be amalgamated for projects requiring a number of staff working together. At the same time include areas where single worker’s can get on with their task quietly and in relative privacy. Use glass or trellis type partitions, so all that natural light can do its work.

Insist on Staff Breaks:

Job insecurity and lack of self-confidence often means staff will forego break times, and grab a lunch-time sandwich while still working. It’s a practise which should be frowned on. Nothing is gained. The extra time worked just increases stress levels, which in turn leads to a decrease in output and higher absenteeism. Ensure there is a social room where they can relax in comfortable armchairs or sofas. Many large companies today are changing work routines, with staff working a maximum 90 minutes, then having a 20 minute break.

Do you think meditation works? Big companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and The World Bank obviously do. They are including mindfulness meditation as part of their drive to reduce stress in the workplace. Other companies are encouraging yoga sessions. Incorporate the options in your social room.

Get Rid of the Me and Them Attitude:

Do you involve staff in the firm’s day to day running and decision making? You should. There is a massive pool of untapped ideas and problem solving expertise available on the office floor. From decoration, to office layout and furniture, involve them in the decision making. They’re the ones who have to work there. Consult them on the best way to approach a new project, their feedback may well speed up the process, increasing profitability. Feeling efforts are appreciated has a large bearing on your staff’s overall approach to the working day.

Embrace Flexible Working:

Many employees in today’s modern office environment have to juggle work commitments with running a family. Have you noticed a member of staff’s output dropping off? Do they seem pre-occupied? Talk to them, ask if you can help. Perhaps a partner’s shift pattern has changed creating child minding problems. Being able to start and finish an hour earlier, or an hour later, may be all that’s required to have a happy, productive member of staff back again. Being able to work at home, coming into the office once or twice a week, can also be a big attraction for many experienced office workers with outside commitments.

Reducing stress in the workplace should be the priority of all businesses. Pleasant working conditions, with happy staff who feel a part of the company will maximise creativity, increase productivity and most importantly, help relieve the workplace stress you also carry on your own shoulders.

Bio: James Pointon is a Customer Consultant, deeply interested in improving both business-to-customers and between-employees communication. Currently supporting OpenAgent, James might often be found online, taking part in a variety of business discussions and sharing his ideas about establishing a successful business.

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