Creating a healthy working environment can do wonders for staff morale and boost productivity. If you’re looking to set up a new office space for your startup or small business, the well-being of your employees should be your top priority. This doesn’t need to cost the earth, with a little time and preparation, you can create a happy and healthy office space.
Returning to work will be daunting for many people after being under quarantine for so long, so it’s vital you’re up to date with hygiene and social distancing measures as well. Ensure your employees feel secure and protected, and know they’re in safe hands. Here is the ultimate guide to creating a healthy office space.
Location, location, location
Sometimes the hardest part is finding the office space, to begin with. If you’re wondering how to find office space there are plenty of options online to help you. There are several factors you need to take into account regarding the location.
Where you choose to set up your office is key. You want a convenient location for your employees, without paying extortionate rent prices. Think about the type of business you run and your clientele. Choose a location that’s easy to get to for your employees and your customers.
Get the most out of your space
If you’re moving into a new office space, or if you simply want to revamp the place a bit, preparation is key. Spend some time thinking about how employees will work together and where they will sit. Use a zoning technique to create areas, and really get the most out of your office space.
At the moment it’s vital to protect your staff with hygiene measures in place. Hand sanitizing units and antibacterial wipe dispensers need to be provided. The most important thing to ensure your staff is trained in how these practices work to make them feel comfortable.
In larger offices, you could consider one-way walkways to minimize contact. Think about the positioning of desks and how big the spaces are between them. Could two people pass and maintain a safe distance of 2 meters? Here are some examples of safe office plans.
It’s very important to have a well-lit area otherwise it could be detrimental to your employees’ health, not to mention their morale. Working in a dimly lit area can cause headaches and lead to poor concentration. Consider upgrading the lighting in your office space. Cheap recessed ceiling lights are an effective way to replicate sunlight and produce a healthier ambiance. For a more sustainable option, switch all electric lights to LEDs.
There are some interior design tricks you can use to help brighten up the office. Stick to white as the main ceiling and wall color to help reflect the light around the room. You can also do this with furnishings. Go for patterns with some flecks of white in them to help scatter light around and make the office appear more spacious.
Ergonomic work stations
Proper ergonomic work stations are very important for the health of your employees as you don’t want them miserable and uncomfortable. It’s a health and safety requirement to make sure that your staff is provided with supporting ergonomic furniture and comfortable working conditions. This will greatly reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury and other related health problems.
Replace chairs, desks, and keyboards with a more ergonomic option. Ensure that the positioning of the work stations is optimum to avoid things like repetitive strain injuries, headaches, and eye-strain. Keep monitors at a safe distance and be sure to also get feedback from your staff to make sure that they are comfortable.
Tackle office noise
Too much office noise will cause distraction and a decrease in productivity. You can keep noise to a minimum by keeping machines like photocopiers and printers away from desks. Create quiet areas as well where staff can go on their breaks, and remind them to wear headphones. If any construction or renovation work needs doing, have it done outside of office hours to reduce disturbance.
Healthy food options
Several studies have shown that nutrition must be a primary focus of employee wellness plans. A healthier diet is proven to boost mood, energy levels, and productivity. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that staff has the tools to make healthier alternatives just as cheap, easy, and satisfying. In a friendly manner, try to encourage healthy eating habits that last.
Offer healthier food options rather than the standard sugary snacks. If you can, try to make space for self-catering options, so that your employees can eat a healthy lunch at work. A small fridge and a microwave will go a long way, and won’t cost much.
Introduce cycle to work schemes
A good way to encourage a healthier lifestyle for your staff is with a bike scheme. Set up bike racks where they can safely lock up their bikes and try to motivate them to cycle instead of using public transport. Hold a video conference about the health benefits of cycling and consider offering incentives such as company discounts.
Mental health training
Although this has been improving in recent years many people still feel that their mental health is being overlooked at work. According to some studies, 57% of employees report depression and only 40% of these receive treatment. These people might feel particularly excluded and that their health problems are not being recognized as much as those with physical illnesses.
Stress at work from a feeling of overwhelming pressure to succeed is often the cause as well. The best way to tackle this problem is by giving higher members of staff sufficient training in order to deal with mental health issues. There are specific courses designed for managers, so it might be worth investing in these. You can find more information on the CDC website.
Embrace the outdoors
For a change of scenery, why not take your staff outside from time to time? The time for being stuck inside is over. It’s important for your employees’ wellbeing to be exposed to a little sunlight and to get some vitamin D. Consider finding an office with the option of outside space, whether it’s a shared garden, courtyard or terrace. If this isn’t realistic according to your budget, you could even hold meetings and team-building activities outside from time to time.
Update your equipment
Consider it an investment. By updating your PCs and office technology you’ll be able to create a more comfortable environment for your staff. Newer models will be more efficient and are less likely to create technical problems in the workplace.
State-of-the-art equipment will also make a better impression on your clients. It will also be more compatible with the latest software upgrades, and be more energy-efficient, so you could even save on your electricity bills. All in all, it’s money well spent.
Consider upgrading your operating systems to the 21st century as well. With cloud computing, your employees will be able to access relevant documents and systems in real-time. Ensure you have a fast wifi connection, and minimize complications with connections. This will make your employees’ lives a lot easier and will increase morale and productivity.
Invest in technological upgrades and outsource IT services. You’ll need to look into cloud backup, server hosting, and cybersecurity. Your staff will feel safer knowing that their devices are more secure. Privacy and data issues are paramount and in order to create a safe working environment, you need to protect your staff and information.
Nowadays with advances in technology such as cloud computing, it’s becoming easier to work from home in many different fields. If you have the option, discuss a plan with your employees to allow them a certain amount of hours to work from home. Sometimes a change in scenery is enough to give them the motivation they need. Think about offering the option to personalize hours as well, and letting your employees help to plan a timetable that suits their needs.
This is a great way to get everyone involved and there are many fun options, so get creative. You could choose an environmental, or outdoor focus. This would benefit your employees’ physical well-being as well. Why not plan a work outing? Try paint balling or an escape room, something that gets them working together. Be as inclusive as possible and make sure it’s an activity everyone can do.
The best way to create a healthy office space is to make sure your staff is always smiling. Be approachable and take an active interest in their lives, to ensure they are as happy they can be at work. Make them feel appreciated and offer incentives for promotion, and rewards for good behavior. Often employees can feel like they’re being left out or aren’t being listened to. As their manager it’s important you provide healthy communication and give them plenty of opportunities to give feedback or raise their opinion.
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