A good CEO knows happy employees make for better business. A recent study published by the University of Warwick shows happier employees can lead to at least a 12 percent increase in productivity. But when it comes to increasing employee happiness within our own organizations, we jump to perks like flexible hours, ample vacation time and clear opportunities for advancement. While these things are important, what about the working environment itself? Can the way a company utilizes its space impact employee happiness and job satisfaction?
According to multiple speakers at the 2016 CoreNet Global Summit, the answer is “yes!”
The challenge is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for how space should be utilized to achieve greater employee happiness. Every employee is different. But if your workspace design negatively impacts employee happiness, it can become a costly mistake.
Contrary to popular belief, developing the best work environment isn’t about going all in on an open office, closed office, coworking space or any other type of workspace layout. What matters most is that each employee has access to the resources and environmental elements they personally require to do their job to the best of their ability. Try these five space utilization tips to improve employee happiness.
1. Clean House to Make New Space
Purge everything that no longer serves a purpose in your office. Remove tables and chairs that aren’t used or used only as a dumping ground for random items. Go paperless and do away with your file room. It’s also a good idea to re-examine items in storage and clear out anything you know your office won’t use again. Doing so will make room for new storage items that you remove from your current workspace.
2. Provide Employees with Workspace Options
According to a report by CBRE Group, “a successful workplace strategy provides employee choice in workspace options.” In fact, the study found that workspaces in which employees are allowed to self-select their work location resulted in 10 to 15 percent higher employee satisfaction. To accomplish this, try blending open and closed workspaces by creating “zones” such as creative zones, collaborative zones, quiet zones and private zones.
3. Offer Telecommuting
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce would like to telework at least part time. Give your workforce what it wants, and at the same time, free up office space for those who depend on in-office tools and equipment to do their jobs.
4. Turn Up the Light
According to Key Interiors, the type and level of lighting in many business environments is not decided with employee happiness in mind. Dark lighting triggers the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel drowsy. Dark lighting and decor also makes your workspace appear smaller. Conversely, bright neon lighting can cause computer-screen glares and agitate sensitive eyes.
Sunlight, however, increases the hormone serotonin, a mood-booster that helps people feel calm and focused. If we don't get enough serotonin, we can become depressed. But just five to 15 minutes of sunlight two or three times a week is enough to reap the benefits. To increase natural light…
- Clear the space around office windows
- Update window coverings to allow employees more control
- Keep walls light in color to reflect natural sunlight
- Keep window glass clean
- Take down cubicle walls that block sunlight
5. Incorporate More Greenery
Don’t underestimate the power of nature. Research proves green office spaces generate physiological responses, including increased brain activity and lower stress hormones.
Translation: Your employees are less anxious and more able to concentrate. Bring in more office plants, create an indoor garden or turn your building’s dull rooftop into a lush patio. For facilities like manufacturing plants or power plants with very limited access to the outside world, “virtual nature” can also help boost your mood. For example, a live web feed of a natural environment. Also, here’s a list of plants that do well indoors with little to no sunlight.
Before you revamp your workspace to improve employee happiness and productivity, ask yourself several questions. For example, How is your workspace currently being used? Or What workplace culture does the company want to convey? It’s also wise to invest in space management software to gain greater insight into the wants and needs of your employees.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.