When most of us hear the word “office”, a pretty universal image comes to mind. A grid of grey-panelled cubicles, garish florescent lights which make everything look sort of flat, and a mind-numbing drone of phones, typing and murmurs. Understandably, a lot of people take it as a given that a workspace can’t be fun. I say this isn’t the case! You don’t need to have a whole design overhaul to make an office fun, but there are a few minor changes which can be very effective. Here are some great ideas to consider.
First of all, make it feel a little more like home. If I was an executive in the nineties and threw this out at a board meeting, I’d be laughed out of the room. However, it’s no longer the nineties, and the drab, boxy office is on its way out. In recent years, there’s been a massive movement towards offices that are intended to be cosy and comfortable, more a home away from home than a workspace. Even remote workers need a designated workspace to keep their work/life balance at a healthy level, but that doesn’t mean this workspace can’t be cosy and comfortable. A lot of modern start-ups are now kitting their offices out with shag carpets, open lighting and custom made commercial furniture. Take a leaf from their books, and you’ll start to see a few more smiles around the office.
Next, start to embrace downtime and make a little room for it at your business. If you’re in the early, start-up stages, then this might sound like financial suicide! Obviously, you need to stick to your targets and ensure that you’re going to stay afloat in the foreseeable future. However, your employees probably get some downtime, and improving their experience of it will make for a happier, more productive workforce. There’s only one name you need to know when it comes to offices that embrace downtime: Google. At their offices, slides, bean bags, Lego and video games are now commonplace. Yes, it’s one of the biggest web and software companies on earth and yes, many of their employees have to pull all-nighters a few times a month. Still, Google have gone to the effort to make sure their employees’ shifts are as enjoyable as possible. Google were pretty successful the last time I checked, so take the hint!
Finally, give your employees some exposure to nature. Our early ancestors weren’t built to sit in front of desks for hours at a time, completely sheltered from the elements. I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s something instantly calming and pleasant about getting out in nature, or simply looking at a nice, natural view! Anything that’s good for workers’ moods is good for productivity, so make sure you’re not keeping them cooped up too much. Build an outdoor, sheltered area with a few picnic benches, or move into a premises with a courtyard. When this is combined with the flexibility to work where you want, your staff will quickly become more refreshed and eager.