A quick summary:
In the modern work environment, it’s hard to stay focused. Everything from colleagues, emails, slack announcements and office coffee machines are bleeping and ringing for our attention. We’re essentially living in an age of high attention-grabbing and information overload.
The question is, how do we create a healthy workplace that promotes high engagement, performance and productivity? With so many of us now working remotely, or to some extent, what can we do to our office environment to manifest great achievements?
We will mark ideas that apply to remote workers with an asterisk (*)
How to create a healthy working environment
Here we’ve explored a number of ways (some 23 to be exact) to truly revolutionise your working environment, wherever that may be.
Keep your office environment clear of rubbish*
This surely goes without saying! Like our minds, our working environments need to be free from clutter for us to work effectively. It’s so easy to let general waste, paperwork, stationery and tech devices take over our workstations - and we mustn’t let it!
Make it a regular duty to clear away your desk at the end of each day. Doing so will allow you to declutter both your mind and space ready for whatever tomorrow brings. Throughout the day, try only to keep the essentials on your desk. Here’s our tip to assess if something is an essential… do one of the following:
- Move it
- Bin it
- Use it
Bring natural light into your workplace*
What’s better than sunshine? Not a lot of things in life! Especially with the grey climate that we have here in the UK. The truth is, exposure to sunlight is generally very good for us, and we should actively try to bring natural light into our workspaces. Even a short amount of natural sunlight can make all the difference.
Whether you work from home or in an office environment, consider relocating from your typical workstation in pursuit of a brighter one! Leaders should encourage employees to get outside on their breaks or sit nearer to a window. These might sound like minor changes, but it’s all in the name of vitamin D.
Create spaces to unwind and de-stress for employees
Working in an office environment isn’t always ideal for stress levels. From time to time, we are bombarded with tasks and responsibilities we don’t enjoy, we work with colleagues who are just as stressed, and things don’t always go to plan with projects we’ve spent weeks strategising.
To put it simply, the work environment can bring on a whole range of negative emotions. Leaders should try to use empty spaces within the office as areas to unwind and de-stress. When we are our happiest, we can function effectively; making better decisions and working more efficiently with our time.
With mellow colours and comfortable furniture, businesses can start to minimise employee unhappiness and build healthier, happier teams.
Invest in plants for a healthy working environment*
Plants are a great way to bring the outside world, inside. Whether you’re in an office environment or working from home, houseplants are a great addition to your workstation.
Not only do they boost your mood and increase the air quality around you, but they have also been known to reduce stress and anxiety. In fact, in one study of offices with indoor plants, 37% experienced a reduction in anxiety, and 44% saw a reduction in office hostility.
It’s simple, start investing in indoor plants for your home and office, and reap all the benefits that come with them!
Minimise the number of distractions around you*
As we mentioned earlier on, there are many distractions that steal our attention throughout the day. And that is just the world we live in now. However, learning to work against distractions instead of letting them take control of your attention and energy is important - and possible!
Take a look at your surroundings. Work out what you need, and what you don’t need. If your mobile phone is next to you, it’s time to move it away from your workstation. As we all know too well, the bleep and ringing of notifications are enough to steer our focus.
The trick is to move your mobile phone, along with any other distractions to another room. At first, it will feel unnatural, but eventually, it can become a good habit to have.
Invest in better office furniture for your team
Believe it or not, office furniture can make or break your working environment. That’s because poor furniture like office chairs and desks impact our posture, causing aches and pains. As you can imagine, the less comfortable we are, the less we’re able to focus and achieve our best work.
As a leader, consider investing in better office furniture, especially those that are ergonomically better! In one study, 81% of employees responded saying ergonomics had an impact on their productivity.
Personalise your working environment to your preference*
Moving on to personalising our office environment. This is especially important if you’re living at home. Whether it’s in the office or not, our workstations need to have our own stamp on them. Without it, it feels as though we’re working in a colleague's space.
A good workstation allows us to maximise our output by not having to depart the area for stationery and equipment. Not only this, but we should have our essentials within reach at all times. And at home, it can often feel impossible to work in a kitchen setting, where distractions and household jobs are staring us in the face.
If you’re at home, invest in office equipment; if you’re at home, make sure you have everything you could possibly need to get your job done correctly.
Maintain a healthy and hygienic office space
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the necessity for hygiene in our lives. And it seems to have stuck, with many public spaces now having more hygienic conditions. This should also be the case for your working environment.
A lot of people are still concerned about the coronavirus, so ensuring your office environment has been properly sanitised gives employees a piece of mind. Not only this, but a bad odour or general waste piling up in the office corner can be distracting and off-putting.
Consider a team-wide cleanup schedule each week. This will instil the importance of maintaining a hygienic workplace.
Similar read: 6.5 Signs of a toxic work environment
Create a simple office layout for employees to navigate
Sometimes, office environments can feel a little claustrophobic and maze-like. This can often bring on stress and anxiety, as employees feel uncomfortable having to navigate the office just to take a breath of fresh air. It’s important people do not feel pressured to remain at their desks for several hours at a time.
Take a look at your office environment, how restricting does the current layout make it to leave and move around? It may be time to take down those fake walls and create spaces that allow people to interact with one another.
Remember, engagement and collaboration are important for a number of things, one being employee wellbeing. If people are limited from interaction with others in the workplace, you can expect unhappiness in your workforce.
Consider a “bring your pet to work” policy for employees
Bringing pets to work seems to be the new craze in forward-thinking companies. But it isn’t without solid evidence! In one study, 58% of pet owners said having their furry friends around in the workplace boosted their happiness. That’s not all! 57% said pets relieve anxiety and stress.
In the modern workplace, leaders need to think outside the box, and pets in the office have become a great way to improve employee wellbeing. In a time of uncertainty, and high rates of anxiety and depression, empowering your team with incentives like pets at work could be the answer.
Create recreational spaces for your team to socialise
Believe it or not, socialising is good for us. We need to interact with others both in and outside the workplace for a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. And after a couple of isolating years with COVID-19, it’s more important than ever.
In many office environments, socialising is frowned upon. As though any form of interaction threatens performance and productivity. However, this trail of thought couldn’t be further from the truth.
Despite gossiping or general chat, socialising with colleagues encourages knowledge sharing, and builds workplace alliances and relationships. Rethink your office environment and look for ways to create conversation and break away from work.
Provide free nutritional snacks for a healthy workplace
We all love the free things in life, and healthy nutritional snacks are a great advantage to any office environment - plus employees love them! We all lead very busy schedules, and it can often be hard to have the right nutrition.
Yet, the right nutrition means great fuel for energy and focus - something every leader should want from their team. Because of this, it’s a great idea to add healthy nutritional snacks to the office space.
Not only are your team saving their hard-earned money on unhealthy foods, but they are also getting the right kind of foods thanks to you. Eating well helps us sustain a healthier lifestyle too - expect fewer absences from your team!
Incorporate collaborative spaces into your office environment
In addition to recreational spaces and quiet spaces, it’s important you show your team they have somewhere to collaborate. Somewhere they can get together and come up with great ideas. This doesn’t necessarily mean a corporate meeting room, but rather somewhere they can interact and work together simultaneously.
You may have existing office space that goes unused. Consider greeting a space with fresh snacks, comfortable furniture and the place to plug in their machines to get some collaborative work done!
Understand the influence of colour on mood and happiness*
It may come as a surprise to hear that colours can influence our moods and behaviours in the workplace. Leaders must take note of this and design the interior of workstations with their employees in mind.
Certain colours can in fact boost productivity and wellbeing. For instance, warm colours like reds, yellows and oranges provoke feelings of warmth and comfort in the workplace. Whereas colours that are considered cold, like blues and purples can provoke calm and serenity. If you want to maximise your office space, design it with your employees in mind.
Promote personal wellbeing for a healthy workplace
We’ve covered a lengthy list of ways to improve the workplace environment. It wouldn’t be complete without mentioning wellbeing. Leaders should actively promote wellbeing, and build an open and supportive work environment.
Things like an open-door policy and listening to the needs of employees is the best way to begin a culture of wellbeing. After all, wellbeing is above improving in various areas of life to bring about happiness and health.
Find out what it is your team need to boost wellbeing. It may be access to financial education, fertility and family planning support or just access to fitness activities and events.
Ensure your office environment has all the required equipment
Does your office have everything your team could need to get the job done? Is it easily accessible? A great work environment can only truly be great if it serves its primary function - helping your team produce their best work.
What your office environment requires depends on the kind of work your business carries out. In some circumstances, your office might require much more than basic equipment. For instance, a creative agency may need an entire space for production. However, that is up to you to decide. Find out what your team need, whether it be stationary, creative equipment, or general office furniture.
Similar read: The ultimate guide to organisational culture in 2022
Using Heka to build a healthy workplace
Now you’re aware of the many ways to build a happier, healthier working environment, what can you do for your teams? And on an individual level?
Introducing our employee benefits platform, Heka! We’ve built a platform of over a thousand unique and exciting services, products and experiences. All of which have been handpicked by our experts to boost employee wellbeing and happiness.
We like to think of it as more of an employee wellbeing platform because wellbeing shouldn’t be a benefit, but an essential part of every business! From life coaching to nutritional support, health supplements, vegan meal deliveries and fitness classes in the heart of London, Heka has everything your team could need plus more.
If you’d like to find out more about how Heka can benefit each and every one of your employees, get in touch with our wellbeing experts today!
Download our latest resource 👉 Heka 6-week onboarding guide