Is your work environment Conducive or Constraining?
Many people think that as long as you have some kind of flat surface to place your computer on and a chair to sit on while you work, your work environment is sufficiently conducive for you to effectively perform your work duties. Many studies have now proven that this is a gross oversimplification. The correct office design is not only a health and safety requirement, but it also contributes to excellent work performance. Here are some of the factors that you may want to consider for your work environment design:
Understanding who your employees are might give you some insight into their unique needs. You can then create an environment which will enable them to provide you with their best. Do your employees have small children that could benefit from an onsite daycare centre for example? This also applies to any special needs that your employees may have with respect to their language proficiency or disabilities.
Consider the impact of where your workplace is located. If you are in a remote area far away from banks and shops, your staff may benefit from having an onsite canteen. Access to the internet to buy electricity, airtime and make payments make life easier.
Design for wellness and balance
Does your workspace encourage a healthy lifestyle? Hand sanitation stations, health-related education (posters and reading material) are a must. Healthy snack options can be considered. Employing an on-site nurse and close proximity to an affordable gym encourages a focus on health. Some of these would require an investment from the company. Nevertheless, the return on investment from reduced absenteeism rates may make a solid business case.
Creating the right atmosphere
As you design the different areas of your workplace, consider what each area will be utilized for. In places where people will really need to focus, you may need to consider limiting noise levels. This can influence your decision regarding open plan office areas. Where confidential information will be stored, accessed or discussed, you may need to consider privacy. People need areas for creative work. You may want to make it colourful and playful with lots of distractions that could stimulate creative ideas. Spaces where people need to be able to relax and de-stress, you will potentially use a very different type of chair than where you want to create discomfort to encourage people to move on quickly.
Creating opportunities for interaction and team building
Make sure you create spaces where people will interact and build relationships. Informal meeting areas where people accidentally end up at the same table is a good idea. Places, where conversations can be started, will be beneficial. Areas like a shared water cooler, shared printer and whilst making coffee, are excellent ideas.
Are there specific areas that you could utilize for communication purposes? A communication board placed strategically where everyone has to pass at least once a day would be ideal. Boards could be used for important announcements. Notices which recognize employees for going the extra mile.
Is your environment one which encourages a positive mindset and attitude? Maybe you would want to put up a blackboard where people can write down the things that they are grateful for. A bookcase filled with inspirational books in the canteen will provide people with easy access to positive encouragement on days that they need it most. Even having a pack of cards, a puzzle and some board games available may create an opportunity for sometimes well-needed fun and laughter.
Create an environment that not only encourages but also provides the opportunity for continuous learning. Give people the opportunity to share their knowledge and talents, learn new skills and acquire new knowledge. Providing access to information is a key principle in this regard.
Most importantly, make sure that your workspace is in line with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. To comply with this, ensure that there is enough space for your number of employees, make sure they can easily all make use of the provided amenities – especially when they all share the same break time.
Designing the most appropriate workspace is a worthwhile investment in your business success. Make sure that yours is conducive to achieving your business goals and does not constrain your employees from contributing to their full potential.