According to one study, an organization’s workspace was more important to potential employees than salary. Workspace affects employee acquisition, retention, productivity, wellness and much more. That’s why experts say that the wisest place to focus your budget in 2017 is in streamlining and updating your workspace.
But for some businesses, a complete workspace overhaul is out of the question. They can be expensive, time- and resource-consuming and updates may interfere with workflow. However, that doesn’t mean you should disregard your workspace altogether. Even the simplest changes can result in big outcomes.
Here are five small workspace updates every business should make right now.
1. Organize and Declutter
Spring cleaning isn’t just an annual tradition reserved for your home. According to multiple studies, physical clutter negatively affects our ability to focus and process information. It also causes stress and increases the likelihood of depression. Significantly enhance your work environment and free up space by:
- Asking each staff member to clean and organize their workstations
- Investing in organizer systems to provide physical workflows with more structure
- Throwing away or storing old equipment, filing boxes or furniture that isn’t in use
- Going paperless and putting all paper filing into storage
2. Create Workspace “Zones”
Every employee requires something different of their workspace, and preferences change depending on mood, stress level and the nature of the work being performed.
By creating a variety of workspace zones, you can ensure that every employee has the type of space they need to be productive. In most cases, a floorplan assessment will quickly reveal spatial opportunities that can be converted into highly productive zones, such as:
- Collaborative areas for team meetings
- Quiet spaces for when deep concentration is necessary
- Casual break-out spaces for small talk
- Creative spaces that inspire imagination and innovation
- Dining nooks for employees who routinely work through lunch
Spring for new furniture — like a couch, coffee bar or high-top tables — to furnish these spaces. Bring in vibrant office plants to add fresh accents, and think strategically about where each “zone” is located on your floorplan. You don’t want your quiet zone located next to a collaborative workspace, which (in the spirit of teamwork) may get noisy.
3. Improve the Ergonomics of Workstation Furniture
When employees physically feel better, they are less likely to be distracted, are more engaged and are capable of working harder. But sitting at a desk all day has a profound negative impact on health. Experts are bold enough to say that we are “sitting ourselves to death.”
According to The Washington Post, at least two of the eight hours employees spend at the office should be standing and walking around. To improve the comfort and physical well-being of your employees and to encourage healthier work habits, adopt a wellness program and invest in:
- Desk chairs with adjustable lumbar supports
- Adjustable desks that can be raised or lowered to allow for sitting or standing
- Ergonomic keyboards
- Monitor stands that can be raised, lowered and tilted to account for changes in height and lighting.
4. Crank Up the Natural Sunlight
According to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “The extent to which daylight exposure impacts office workers is remarkable.”
Natural sunlight has a significant positive effect on mood, performance, sleep, physical activity and quality of life. Take a look around your office space and try to find ways to bring more natural sunlight inside.
- Remove boxes or stacks of files that may be hampering the flow of sunlight through windows
- Clean the inside and outside of windowpanes regularly
- Update window treatments to allow for varying degrees of sunlight throughout the day
5. Give Your Office a Fresh Coat of Paint
Paint is relatively inexpensive and will dramatically alter the way your workspace looks. More importantly (thanks to the science of color association) wall color can also influence the mindset your employees adopt each day. For example:
- Yellow is an energetic color that can enhance memory and imagination. It’s also associated with feelings of optimism and happiness.
- Green provides inhabitants with a sense of calm and balance and is associated with good health and positive growth.
- Red is a physically stimulating color that increases respiration and heart rate, and helps us feel motivated.
- Blue is a calming color that helps lower heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. It is also said to promote a sense of trust, communication and efficiency.
For the majority of these updates, your greatest investment will be time. However, the payoff is well worth the effort you put in.
If your business budget is what’s holding you back from investing in an innovative workspace, consider the money waste resulting from an inefficient, unproductive environment. More serious updates might just be what you need to increase business output, grow your budget and pull ahead of the competition.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.