Companies who want to increase employee health and productivity ought to consider designing their workplace with ergonomics in mind. After all, ergonomics is all about making things better, and among its benefits are enhanced comfort, reduced fatigue and injury risk, and increased accuracy and productivity. With that being said, here are five productivity-boosting ways to redesign your office:
Ergonomics in the workplace: Add some greens
Adding greens indoors is part of the larger trend of biophilia, which is defined in Karley Middleton’s writeup on boosting employee productivity as “the emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms.”
That said, the simplest, cheapest, and easiest way towards a biophilic design is by placing live indoor plants inside. Aside from promoting biophilia, our writer Elizabeth O’Hanley also points out that plants are a beautiful addition to indoor space, as they bring vibrant hues and fresh air, giving any office a boost. Indeed, doing this can go a long way in ensuring not only enhanced productivity, but also better health. In a Human Spaces survey of European, Middle Eastern, and African employees, those with access to natural elements reported 13% higher level of wellbeing, along with an 8% increase in productivity. Needless to say, it is time you give us a call, as we at Deprolabs will help you incorporate biophilic design into your workplace.
Improve your lighting
Another way to boost productivity is through natural lighting, and it is something Green Creative CEO Guillaume Vidal swears by. “The sterile, bright office lights that are so common in the corporate world are terrible for mental health,” explains Vidal. “The degree to which you can fabricate natural light in an office is invaluable. It can transform the workplace from a cold, unnatural place, to a warm, inviting space for creativity and collaboration.” This is because natural light does not interfere with the body’s natural response to alleviate stress: releasing the stress hormone cortisol.
Ergo, let as much natural light into the workplace as possible by making sure there are big windows or even added skylights. If that’s not feasible, consider investing in lighting technology. Reason being is that advancements in lighting technology is helping transform workplaces into something less stressful according to Green Creative co-CEO Cole Zucker. With this in mind, you can also install cool lights and personalized lighting controls that you can use to adjust the lighting of the environment accordingly.
Get ergonomic furniture
A New York Times feature on ‘How to Make Your Office More Ergonomically Correct’ details how a healthy workstation is “one that allows you to work in a neutral, relaxed position.” In other words, Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group director Alan Hedge, defines this as a setup where you’re putting as little strain on your body as possible. This can be done by providing employees with ergonomic furniture.
Ensuring their work chair is ergonomic is of particular importance, as there are plenty of benefits that ergonomic chairs bring. Case in point, Pain-Free Working’s guide to economic chairs notes that it can improve blood circulation and posture, and even decrease stress. This is particularly helpful for employees who spend most of their days sitting and working on their desks. Take note, however, that there are considerations: It must conform to the user’s shape, support the spine, and keep the joints and tissues in a neutral position. Giving employees such chairs will go along ways in boosting office design. But aside from investing in ergonomic office chairs, you might also consider upgrading to ergonomic work desks and providing equipment like lumbar pads, footrests, and document holders. These will ensure maximum comfort, and make everyone more productive as a result.
Add opportunities for movement
Sitting at your desk all day with very little movement is counterintuitive to productivity. Rather, it’s a recipe for developing back problems, gaining weight, and getting weak and fatigued. These all result in more sick days called in, and an overall decline in productivity. One way to counter this problem is by laying out the office in a way that encourages movement and providing everyone with plenty of opportunities to move about.
In this regard, OnOffice recommends that you ensure physical permeability by eliminating physical barriers (useless walls, cubicles, etc.) that restrict movement. Visual permeability is also important, as being able to see one another at the workplace can encourage face-to-face interactions rather than making phone calls. So, tear down those walls (figuratively and literally), open up the office, and let everyone move about as freely and as often as possible.
Allow for personalization
Finally, give your employees the freedom to personalize their workstations. This helps them establish an emotional connection to their own workspace, and is likely to encourage more productive performance. This is because productivity is also personal. Just make sure to draw the line as to how much personalization is permissible.
Nathan Wright is a former HR specialist, who has since turned into office design consulting. He presently doing further studies on workplace ergonomics, including the impact of going green on employee performance.