Recent research suggests that workers in an open-plan office space are more active and less stressed than those with desks in cubicles or private offices.
The University of Arizona study used chest sensors to track movement and heart rate in hundreds of people in different buildings over three days.
It also suggested that office workers tend to be a sedentary group compared to other workers, making them more likely to have health issues, including heart problems, tiredness and low mood.
Making sure your employees have a happy and healthy workplace is obviously in your interest as an employer. Your office space can play a significant role in this. However, for those that don’t have purpose-built, open-plan office space, it can be tricky. Here are some tips from (adapted from an article* by Markwell Peck – specialists in professional and commercial decorating) to make even the smallest space feel more spacious:
Colours in your office can affect your employees’ mood but they can also make your office space feel either too enclosed or too big, cold and clinical. Brighter colours on the walls work best if you want to open up a space. For the floor, it is the opposite – the darker the better – as this gives an illusion of extending further than it does. White furniture can make your office space feel cleaner and tidier.
Having a minimalistic approach in mind can make a small office seem bigger. Having too much clutter, on the other hand, can make your employees feel cramped, disorganised and even less productive. It is not a great idea from a health and safety point of view to have an untidy workplace. Even more so, you shouldn’t be leaving sensitive paperwork or client details lying around either. Invest in storage so that employees have space to put away any necessary documents and folders so they don’t have to leave them on desks. Encourage a clear-desk policy so that nothing is left out at the end of the day.
Using wireless computer equipment – keyboards and mice – can make your desk feel less cluttered. Make sure to tuck away wires connecting to the internet, computers, phones and printers. This will also prevent any trip hazards.
When you walk into an office one of the first things that people see is the walls. Cracks, chipped paint and dirty marks can have a negative impact. Having the office regularly repainted and decorated is important to maintain a clean and professional appearance. Adding a vase of flowers in reception is a nice touch (as long as they are regularly refreshed) and appropriate art and window treatments can make your office feel a lot more welcoming . Hang pictures, mottoes and images that fit in with your company brand and choose furniture and accessories that open up your space. The principles of feng shui can help you. As an example, let us say that you work in a very bright office (the fire element) with an abundance of light colours including metal filing cabinets, computers, faxes, etc. (the metal element). In this case, you would want to focus on bringing in the other elements. For example, you could bring in some plants for the wood element, some earthy colors for the earth element, and an aquarium for the water element.
Adding mirrors to a room or wall is a great way to open up a room. Just make sure that they are kept polished and dust-free.
Lighting is one of several factors in an individual’s working environment. The provision of ‘good’ lighting may assist in minimising fatigue. It can also open up a small and dark and dingy office space. Natural light is preferable where possible. However, if that’s just not available, try using “daylight” bulbs. To achieve a balance between natural and artificial light and to avoid shadows and glare, it is recommended to place lights parallel to any windows and the workspace. In addition, use task lights closer to desks. A dimmer switch can help moderate the lighting for different times of the day.
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*article first published in New Business