We know it’s all a little crazy at the moment – and we understand that for some, the idea of a happy working environment might be a dim and distinct memory – for the moment at least.
However, on International Happiness at Work Week, Kate Holt, Managing Director of flex-office provider BusinessLodge, gives us a insight in to why more and more clients are desperate to get back to their desks – and the key elements that make for a happy working environment.
The British are a nation of grafters. On average, we spend 34 hours and 26 minutes a week at work, totalling a whopping total of 84, 365 hours over a lifetime. Given those stats, it goes without saying that our employment can have a considerable impact on our quality of life.
Ask most people what it takes for them to be happy at work and you can expect to hear points that include great terms and conditions, respect from colleagues, decent holiday and good rates of pay.
However, as the culture within the workplace changes, employers are starting to recognise that the working environment itself also has a significant effect on staff wellbeing – and that it pays to invest in this area.
The actual place that staff are working in should not be underestimated when it comes to keeping employees happy – it can make a huge difference.
Businesses are finally becoming savvy to this and it’s exactly why we exist– to provide a flexible, modern environment with a real sense of community.
Right now this is more important than ever. People are weary from working at home for months on end and are keen to get back onsite – for many reasons, of course taking all safety measures in to account.
With almost 20 years in the industry, Kate has given us an insight into the top things to consider when looking for business premises to help foster a contented workforce.
Location, location, location – and parking
You can have the most cutting edge, super shiny office in town – but if it’s inaccessible for your staff it’s a none-starter. People want to be able to get to their place of work easily – so choose somewhere on a good route.
Car parking is also a key consideration. Spaces are often at a premium and there is nothing more stressful than arriving for a busy day at work to find that you can’t get parked anywhere near your office.
During the current pandemic, this is truer than ever. We’re finding more and businesses are looking to move out of the city centre, to enable easier access for employees. What’s more, living closer to the office makes it easier to walk, cycle or even run to work, while avoiding public transport, particularly at the moment.
Natural Light is known to boost psychological wellbeing and a study by Loyola University found that people who work in sunlight have better short-term cognitive skills and are more productive than those working in more dimly lit areas. Not everyone has this luxury, so the next best option is soft, artificial light, plenty of plants and ensuring that staff take a regular break from their desks outside.
For those who are still working at home, make the most of the chance to get out in to outside space periodically.
The Colour Scheme
Colour psychology suggests the decor used in an office environment can have a dramatic impact on staff and visitors alike. These effects are subliminal and opinions are formed the moment the door is opened. Delving a little deeper, it makes perfect sense that the right colours can help make a happy workplace.
Green as an ideal colour for an open-plan office as it is ‘easy on the eye’ and induces feelings of calm. Plenty of green plants have a similar effect, as well as being great for air quality. Blue is also associated with calmness as well as thinking and problem-solving. Yellow, orange and red are said to be perfect for collaboration points, enhancing productivity and creativity.
A suitable desk-space is a fundamental requirement for any office worker and an ergonomic chair is another ‘must have’ to maximise comfort and minimise the risks of poor posture. Whether the layout is open-plan or more traditional, quality furniture really is an essential.
Additionally, the option to personalise our workspaces with photos and trinkets reaffirms our identities and can enhance our focus. Employees who have control over the layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier, they may also be as much as 32% more productive.
A sense of community
Humans are sociable creatures and everyone wants to be one of the gang. Building a sense of community in the workplace will make a huge difference to an employee’s wellbeing, even if you’re a one-man band. Kate Holt says:
“We’re incredibly proud of the strong community feel that we’ve built in BusinessLodge. In addition to the office space, we’ve designed our buildings to include lots of communal space, where people can meet up, network and socialise. “
As Co-working becomes increasingly popular, even smaller businesses can benefit from building their own community through shared space, building their network and working side-by-side with others from different industries. And after months of being separated, we’re finding that smaller businesses are desperate for the social intetaction.
Business opportunities aside, workers benefit from always having someone on hand to bounce ideas off, not to mention the social aspect.
Chill Out Zones
It’s essential that employees get time to relax, regroup and collect their thoughts. Chill-out zones are increasingly popular, and are now almost an expectation. Far from submitting to the temptation to linger longer than necessary in the tranquillity of these zones, they actually encourage workers to return to their desks, not only refreshed, but on time. After all, happy workers are up to 12% more productive than unhappy professionals, as a study by the University of Warwick concluded.
While some larger businesses might boast on-site slides and theme parks for staff use, these are likely to be the exception rather than the rule. However, given the benefits of exercise on both physical and mental health, an on-site gym provides the perfect wind-down opportunity at the end of a busy day without the need to leave the building to get there.
It’s clear then that our happiness at work is largely dependent upon our level of physical comfort and employers are increasingly waking up to that fact.
After all, it’s in their best interests to ensure that their workforce remains happy. In doing so, recruitment, satisfaction and retention of talent are bolstered and the risk of ‘brain drain’ is reduced. This sentiment is echoed in the words of Johnny Carson who said;
“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that… you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.”