12/11/2010

By Tim Xumsai, Avanta

For anyone who has ever worked in an office (and most people have at some point in time), they have probably thought about what it would be like to be a part of the perfect office environment - unless of course you are in the very small minority of people who work at somewhere like Google. The perfect office environment will mean different things to different people — for some it’s all about the physical environment, where as others may place emphasis on the people they work with. The important thing to consider is that you need both those things to create a great environment; you can have the greatest office in the world, but if no one gets along it’s still going to be a bad place to work. This article will mainly concentrate on some of the physical aspects on creating the perfect workspace environment and the improvements you can make.

Firstly, we can safely agree that working in some sort of office utopia (with its free unlimited cafeteria, games room, and bean bags as far as eye can see) is the exception rather than rule. However, there are some fairly simple techniques you can use to create a great working environment — no need to spend millions turning your office into something resembling a futuristic fun fair.
Before we look at some tips on how to create a great office environment, let’s first look at some of the potential benefits:

• Firstly, it can foster high productivity and creativity. Staff members who work in an environment they enjoying being in are more likely to work harder - individually and within groups.

• It can also have a positive effect on camaraderie between staff within the office — this also improves productivity, especially in group/team situations.

• A good office environment is also a highly effective method of staff retention. Employees that are happy and motivated tend to stay in jobs longer. Hiring new staff can be expensive and time consuming, so retaining your current work force is important.

• It can also be a great way of attracting new and talented staff. Given all things are equal; a potential employee would probably be more likely to join a company with a good working environment over one that doesn’t.

So, how does one go about creating the perfect working environment? If you’re looking for a new office or simply wanting to improve your current environment here are a couple of things to consider:

• Lighting — Various studies have suggested that a well lit office improves concentration, reduces eye strain and even decrease absenteeism. Ample natural light can also make your office space look larger than it is really is.

• Colour — Implementing bold colours within your office environment will make it unique and memorable, and is a great way to boost productivity and morale within the office. Different colours can affect the psychology of your staff — for instance, orange stimulates creativity, yellow heightens motivation and blue is seen as calming and can fight physical and mental tensions. So why not choose one wall in the office and paint it a bold colour as a contrast to others. You can even use these colour techniques on your furniture (in your relaxation area for instance) for added impact.

• Plants — Having plants and flowers in the office plays two roles. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing and will enhance the attractiveness of your surroundings with some much needed colour; it also filters and purifies the air within the office. The presence of plants can reduce stress, limit minor ailments within the office and improve concentration and productivity.

• Layout — Having separate spaces for working and relaxation can be a great benefit. Giving your staff the chance to get away from their desk (even if it’s just for a couple of minutes) is a great way for them to refocus. In addition to this, by making staff filter through a common area (e.g. relaxation area) when they are moving in and around the office is a great way to improve staff interaction and camaraderie, which can lead to better group productivity.

• Visual Décor — A few paintings or some fine art prints are a great way of improving the look and feel of the office. They can be a great source of inspiration keeping staff creative and motivated throughout the day.

• Music — Although music tastes can vary from person to person, giving them the option to have non-distracting music in the background is a good way to keep up staff morale.

• The Little Things — And finally, sometimes it’s the little things around the office that your staff will really love. It can be something as simple as a really good selection of drinks in the kitchen, a fruit bowl and newspapers in your relaxation area or even a great desktop background on their computer. These things all add up and can make a big difference!

The above are just some of the things you can implement in your office to create a better working environment.


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