Whether you’re looking at ways to improve conditions in a large office, or simply seeking to have the best home office possible, there are many things you can do to ensure that your work environment is the best it can be for good health. This includes both physical and mental health;, as together they have a dramatic impact on how productive workers are, their happiness, and productivity.
The following are all easy to implement steps to set up a healthy work environment.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness…
… or so the saying goes. Let’s face it, being in a clean and tidy place of work is far preferable to the alternative. Not only is it good for the soul, but allowing dust, grime, and the various bacteria it harbors to build up can impact your health in a negative way.
A daily clean up, either by the workers themselves or more preferably, a cleaner -emptying bins, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning windows etc. will also encourage employees to do their bit and keep their own desk space tidy as well.
You might’ve heard of a phenomenon known as ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. This is a very real and can cause illnesses and a variety of symptoms in those who spend time there. There are many reasons this can occur – such as electromagnetic radiation, biological contaminants, or even chemical ones. Not only can it cause illness, but can also have a negative effect on productivity and increase the number of sick days taken by staff.
Have you seen the light?
It’s essential to have the correct kind of lighting. Natural light is the best, but there are options if that’s not possible. Speak to a lighting expert who can advise on the best illuminations without causing too much glare or deep shadows. Light has an enormous effect on how employees perform. Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and/or headaches – not something that makes for happy, productive workers.
Are you sitting comfortably?
We 21st century humans spend an awful lot of time sitting down at work. This can lead to various physical issues, with the main culprit being lower back pain – a massive cause of absenteeism. The correct seating options to help target such musculo-skeletal problems is money well invested. Encouraging employees to take breaks from sitting – and, if at all possible, offering a break out area to do so is also advisable.
Other important considerations are such items as ergonomic keyboards to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) and telephone headsets for those who spend a lot of time on the phone.
Add some greenery
Indoor plants are a great way of bringing a little bit of the outdoors into the office. Not only do they offer the welcome distraction of watering and feeding, but they sure do brighten the place up. Splashes of color do a huge amount to subliminally raise mood and morale. In addition, they do their bit to keep the air inside an office clean. Plants such as the Peace Lily and the Gerbera Daisy have been proven by NASA to remove products such as formaldehyde and benzene from the atmosphere.
How’s your cabling?
There’s no getting away from it, cables are part and parcel of any office. Very often half hidden from sight, they have the habit of snarling together to create a maze of wires that leads to – well, if you’ve ever tried to untangle such a mess, who on earth knows where?
The bigger the office, the greater the number of cables. And while it might seem a challenging task, it really is possible to get such wiring under control. Cable tidies are the first port of call; clever little gadgets that separate and de-tangle even the worst of cable offences. And if you’re designing an office space from scratch, it’s worth considering having these pesky blighters concealed completely out of sight, either within channels in the walls or with conduits.
Stay legal. Those health and safety laws are there for a reason…
Any workspace is legally obliged to adhere to certain rules. It’s not only common sense to carry out risk assessments within the workplace, but it’s plain old common sense too. Also necessary to consider is that a workplace is legally obliged to ensure various minimum standards. These apply to such areas as access to drinking water, sanitation, and sufficient ventilation.
OK, so the above are all material concepts that you can put in place to ensure a healthy work environment. But there are also many other processes that can be put in place that will have a truly positive effect on how healthy and productive a workplace can be.
- Regular teambuilding activities: These don’t need to be expensive. Simple things like a monthly team meal or end of week wrap (preferably on neutral, non-work, territory), can do wonders for the attitudes of workers. Or on a more formal scale, HR development events or professional teambuilding training can be great fun for all. The whole idea is to strengthen the bonds within your team. The better these are, the happier the workers. This leads to a healthy mental attitude in staff and, ultimately, better productivity.
- Fitness: Sure, you can’t force your employees to get or stay fit. But you can encourage them. Negotiate a corporate deal at the local gym, set up a running club, or offer an incentive to employees who walk or cycle to work are all ways to promote better fitness. And the fitter your staff, the less likely they are to take days off work due to sickness. Plus activity breeds activity. Once a few people get into it, you’ll be surprised at how many others jump on the fitness wagon.
- Ensure a clear and fair staff policy: This must apply to all levels of staff, from the most junior to the most senior. An open working system promotes contented staff. And happiness means better productivity. Encourage openness and honesty, and you’ll be amazed at the positive affect it has on the working environment.