While separating one’s professional life from their work may feel like a logical step for their work-life balance, the truth is that these things are much harder to keep apart. The reason behind this is fairly simple, due to the fact that a lot of people spend 8 to 10 hours every day in their office. When you consider the time spent on commute, rest, sleep and chores, it turns out that you spend more time in an office than in your home.
This is why it’s so pivotal for your mental health that people in your employees develop a feeling of calm, serenity, coziness and warmth towards their office. While it may be impossible for you to control how people feel, there are several tricks that should make this emotion or sensation somewhat easier to achieve. Here are several tips you should try in order to make this as easy as possible.
1. Massive wall calendar
The first thing you need to figure out is the way to make schedule and deadlines feel less intimidating and the best way to do so is to install a massive wall calendar in the middle of the room. You don’t even have to buy a printed version, seeing as how you can just have a mural painted in the middle of the room. Then, next year, you can have it repainted and start all over again. This painting session can become a symbolic event, maybe even become an office tradition, thus marking a fresh start.
Keep in mind that this will also have a pragmatic role, seeing as how it will give your audience a clear and simple insight into what’s next on the menu for your company. These several features alone are more than enough for you to consider this move. The biggest downside would be the cost, yet, when you’re gaining so much from it, the ROI may be quite positive.
2. An indoor jungle
One of the things that people lack the most while indoor, is a direct touch with nature. Sure, no amount of pot plants can replace one’s innate need to walk amongst nature, yet, starting your own indoor jungle can be a somewhat effective compromise. In order to make the place as vivid as possible, you need to put an emphasis on the diversity of plants and vividness of the space. Just keep in mind that upkeep of such a space may require a lot of maintenance. This means either delegating this task to someone, making it into a chore for the cleaning crew or investing in smart planters. It all depends on your ambitions, budget and plans.
As for the perks that you get, a more aesthetic vibe to the place is just the tip of the iceberg. Plants drastically improve air quality within the room and are even known to help regulate air humidity and temperature of the place. For this reason alone, you need to be very careful when approaching this topic.
3. Decent office kitchen
The next area you need to focus on is an office kitchen and the best way to do so is to enhance its layout, its organization and its equipment. As far as the layout goes, a kitchen and the dining area don’t necessarily have to be connected. What matters is that there’s enough room for everyone. When it comes to the organization, the office fridge is a cause for a myriad of arguments. People try to resolve this on their own by labeling their food, yet, this is not always the most effective solution. Instead, you might want to invest in one of those outstanding segmented fridges and assign each compartment to a department, team or group within your employ.
Most important of all, you need a reliable workplace coffee machine. Coffee is the fuel on which the modern business world is running, which is why having a decent coffee machine suddenly becomes a priority. Other than boosting productivity, coffee also increases alertness, thus reducing the number of errors. Last, but in no way least important, drinking coffee is also proven to increase one’s sociability, which does wonders for team unity and team building.
4. Work on your break room
In order to work at their peak performance, your team needs regular breaks, yet, their ability to recuperate depends on both the quality of break and its duration. For the first aspect to work in your favor, you need to have the two areas of the break room – the noisy one and the silent one. The first one should be the one with the watercooler, the one meant for small talk, whereas the second one needs to be for those who want to catch forty winks. Recent studies have shown that grabbing just 20 minutes of sleep may help one regain their focus and increase their productivity.
As for the noisy part, you need to provide enough seating, as well as one or two recreational items, appliances. While some companies like to go for a pinball machine, the truth is that it’s much better to opt for something that can be used by more people at the same time. We’re talking about table soccer, a pool or a pinball machine. The best thing about these ideas is that all of the items can be bought online (at a fairly frugal price) and this is not an investment that you would have to repeat anytime soon.
5. Think about the office light
Another thing that is pivotal for the office atmosphere is the light. First of all, you need to work on the influx of natural lights by any means available. Removing items that obstruct the light flow and hanging mirrors to enhance the illumination of the room are just two of many tips. Nonetheless, you might also want to take this one step further and consider installing a skylight somewhere.
Now, we come to the part that directly impacts the functionality of the place, as well as the health of the eyesight of your employees. While the illumination in the room needs to be formidable on its own, by making it too bright you might achieve a counter-effect. This is why it’s usually for the best to keep things subtle and complement this with decent task lights all over the place.
6. Provide alternative workspaces
One of the reasons why a lot of people want to work from home is due to the fact that this gives them an opportunity to choose the terms under which they’re working. That being said, you need to think about providing alternative workspaces for your staff. For instance, if your employees want to work on the lazy bags in the hallway then they should, by all means, be allowed to do so. Same goes for working on the balcony, while there are some offices that even go as far as to outfit their roof in order to make it work-friendly.
This is also one of the reasons why so many companies are allowing people to spend one or two days working from home every single week. Not only will this give them freedom and keep the office space crowd-free but it also gives your audience the sense that they have partial ownership of the company. Needless to say, this makes people work harder and try more, which is, on its own, something that you’ve been trying to achieve.
7. Rugs and fabrics
Keeping the place warm and cozy is a goal that you can achieve only if you appeal to many senses at the same time. For instance, by adding a multitude of rugs to the office, you’ll add to the tactile sense of a softer, cozier ambiance and make your office feel closer to home. In the open floor office, you can even use these rugs to separate the room into areas and make tiny islands around the place. One last perk that you receive from this is the ability to reduce the amount of noise caused by foot traffic, which just further adds to the overall productivity in the place.
8. Privacy in open space
An open space office is a concept that’s embraced by more and more entrepreneurs all over the globe. The difficulty with it, however, lies in knowing how to properly decorate the place and maintain its functionality. In the previous section, we’ve hinted on the importance of creating separate areas. You see, just because there are no physical walls, this doesn’t mean that you can’t act like they are present at least in some aspects. By carefully positioning the monitor on each desk, you can easily create a sense of privacy in open space that your team can benefit from. This will make everyone feel more secure and more confident. It will make them feel at home.
9. Cubicle decoration
Previously, we’ve mentioned an open-floor office, which is a trend that the majority of the business world is currently adhering to, however, the cubicle system is still far from being outdated. Look at it this way, by opting for a cubicle system, you can allow every single one of your employees to treat the area as their own room. Sure, the size and the layout of the cubicle may not be customizable, but there’s no one to prevent them to place a lamp from home or a small pot plant on their own desk. Then, they can dress cubicle walls in a wallpaper of their choice and nail some photographs there. By adding a chair cushion of their own choice and a couple of simple items with personal meaning, they can really start transforming the place.
The very last thing you need to understand is the fact that this is still an office and you can’t sacrifice productivity for the feeling of homeliness alone. However, if there’s anything that you can do in order to make your team feel like belong, you owe it to yourself, your staff and your business to try. These nine simple tips can be quite effective when applied correctly, which is why you should probably use them as a starting point. Later on, you can feel free to unleash your full creativity and explore some new ideas along the way.
Photo credits: eOffice