“You just get the vibes of your surroundings and it rubs off on you.” Gordon Lightfoot
Our immediate surrounding and workplace environment has a big impact on the state of our minds. The “Vibe” of the work environment is dependent on a lot many factors, such as the design of the work station, company values, leadership styles and so on and so forth. Only when all of the factors come to play, you can build a positive and healthy workplace. A positive work environment ensures that your employees don’t have to leave their hearts at home when they are at work. It has direct implications on their performance, productivity and mood at work.
In this blog, I’ll be discussing some of the most important components of a working environment and ideas to improve workplace environment. I’ll also add some actionable takeaway points under each element to make it easier for you to incorporate them in your workplace.
8 Easy-to-implement Ideas to Improve Workplace Environment
1. Rethink Design:
“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.”—Charles Eames
The design of the workplace matters much more than we like to give it credit for. A modern workplace design must have a blend of comfort and style. Well-Designed office space is a gift that your employees will appreciate the most. It can speak volumes about the company values and working style. After all, it is the first impression that anyone entering the office space has.
The office design should primarily focus on comfort. Your employees are spending a huge chunk of their waking hours in the office, so comfort should be a primary criterion in the design. Make sure you offer proper amenities like comfortable furniture, leisure rooms/nap rooms, good washrooms and kitchen.
Note that the design of the office space should have room for personalization and flexibility. Rather than employees being stuck to a particular region, offer some coworking spaces within the organization where employees can work alone or in teams just to change their usual setting. Open offices are also gaining more popularity lately.
Additionally, give your employees some autonomy to choose their desired space and add a personal touch to it.
Workplaces today have to accommodate a multi-generational workforce, dominated by millennials and Gen Zers. They are changing every facet of life and they put special emphasis on the design and decor of their offices. The picturesque office spaces of start-ups and new companies are a clear result of their preferences.
2. Colour and Lighting:
Colours impact our mood. The physical environment of the office, which typically includes lighting, walls and ceiling have a great impact on the mood of the workplace environment.
Adding vibrant and colourful elements automatically changes the aura. The colours blue and green are associated with creativity and innovation and has been a favourite choice for office walls. Similarly, the colour red is associated with better concentration. You can partially add red in walls or add red elements to the project rooms, analytics, specific purpose rooms for better focus.
The office should be well-lit. Proper lighting makes even difficult work tasks easier. Additionally, appropriate lighting without glare and shadow can prevent fatigue and headaches among employees. It is also preferable to have ambient daylight entering certain areas of the office space.
Exposure to natural elements such as greenery and sunlight has proven to improve the mood and mental health of employees. If it is not feasible to have natural sceneries as your backdrop, indoor plants (both flowering and foliage) are a great way to incorporate greenery in the office setting.
3. Nuture a great Company Culture:
You can have all the right strategy in the world; if you don't have the right culture, you're dead.-Patrick Whitesell
The company culture is an amalgamation of company values, leadership style, internal behavior, internal communication, company structure etc.
How the company runs internally has a big impact on the workplace environment. It is something that needs to be worked upon constantly and it is definitely not a one-time agenda. Building a healthy company culture requires the participation of all the members at various levels of the organization.
As employers and managers, you must demonstrate and encourage values that nurture the growth of employees and motivates them to deliver their best.
Companies should focus more on creating a collaborative work environment that facilitates robust communication and constructive feedback. In short, an open-door work culture wins.
The norms of the company should be flexible when it needs to be but at the same time well-defined and well-accepted.
4. Promote Wellness in the workplace:
Prioritizing Health and Wellness is pivotal in the workplace. The health of your employees is largely related to the condition and offerings of the workplace. You might feel like there is very little that you can do to improve the wellbeing of your employees, but it is not so. Once you start prioritizing wellness, some small changes in the workplace can reap much greater benefits.
If you do not know where to get started, here are a few questions you must ask yourselves:
- Do your employees have a healthy work-life balance?
- What are the initiatives taken by your organization to promote wellness?
- Are your employees stressed? Is the work-load reasonable?
- Do you have a proper corporate wellness program in your company?
- Are you offering nutritional food to your employees at the office?
- Is smoking in or near the office area a common scene?
If these questions aren’t enough you might also want to run a survey to understand various health issues among your employees. Start off your workplace health initiatives by running health awareness among your employees.
5. Leverage Technology:
About 40% of workers said they left a company because they lacked access to state-of-the-art digital tools. (Randstad)
Workplaces are transforming at a stunning rate and technology has emerged into becoming an inseparable part of every modern workplace. Businesses nowadays rely extensively on digital tools for their performance and productivity.
Automation trumps efficiency. Only when organizations offer the best tools employees can deliver the desired results. When they are not given access to the best tools and not given the opportunity to implement best practices, they feel demotivated and often frustrated at work.
Moreover, the availability of technology is directly related to innovation, creativity and job efficiency. It is important for the personal and professional development of your employees.
Like cited above, it is one of the prime reasons for employees to leave their jobs. The bottom line is: organizations, by all means, should build a smart workplace environment aided by cutting-edge technology.
6. Embrace Diversity in the workforce:
The people who constitute the workforce naturally have a big impact on the environment. The new generations (Millennials and GenZ) in the workforce identify themselves as global citizens. They are not only accepting of diversity in the workforce but are welcoming of diversity.
Moreover, with the immediacy of digital media, more and more businesses and companies are moving towards becoming global entities. To have a global identity, it is essential that your workforce is diverse and inclusive.
When people from different regions, ethnicities, tradition, and social structure come together, they bring new and unique ideas to the table. They offer a fresh perspective to matters and more ways of problem-solving. And the combined result is a much-needed global outlook to matters in hand.
Therefore, bringing diversity in the workplace is not just a quota to be fulfilled or a trend to be followed. Diversity helps you in building a solid work culture and helps the business in the long run. It is a pathway that all modern businesses should follow.
7. Encourage healthy Work-Life Balance:
Work-life balance is probably the most overused term among today’s employees. It has become the topmost criteria for job-seeker and a top agenda for employee engagement practitioners. Work-life balance can come into play in various ways. It may be in the form of flexible office timings, more vacation time, work-from-home options etc.
Organizations should adopt a work-environment that help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance even during office hours. You should ensure that there is a good amount of fun and frolic in the work atmosphere. Here are some suggestions inspired by some of the most employee-friendly workplaces:
Conduct employee engagement and team building activities
- Bring-your-partner-to-work days
- Bring your dog to work days or Pet-friendly areas in the workplace
- Paid holidays and vacation
- No official-work hours
- Paid paternity and maternity leaves (including time off for bonding with newborns)
- Hobby-pursuing activities and courses
- Organizing special events every month for rewarding employees.
- Office theme parties
8. Switch to Eco-friendly workplaces:
Modern businesses must shift towards building sustainable and eco-friendly workspaces. Although Setting up green offices is not a new concept, but even the most successful business entities are sceptical about it. They are often considered as expensive and inconvenient.
Infact, eco-friendly workplaces have more advantages than one. They can actually help you save money in the long run. Once the office space is set up, the maintenance cost of these offices is surprisingly low. Energy-efficient alternatives such as laying off the thermostat, going paperless, maximizing natural light, green commuting have little to no cost after the initial expenses.
Sustainability is very much possible only if you are ready to take some proactive efforts in the beginning. This is a way that every modern workplace should venture on.
Decoding and Driving Employee Engagement