Gone are the days of beige cubicles, metal desks, and lightly padded chairs – and for good reason.
Studies have shown that the effects of workplace design (including ergonomics, eye strain, and Repetitive Stress Injuries) have a significant impact on not just employee wellness, but their productivity and overall mood. In fact, 93% of workers in the technology sector have said they would stay longer at a company that provides workplace benefits like wellness rooms, fitness benefits, healthier food options nearby or on-site, and ergonomic solutions like standing desks and adjustable seating.
Whether you’re looking to improve your workspace or spec a build-out for a new office, take the following tips and statistics into account before making an investment in new wellness and ergonomic initiatives.
Design and Environment Makes a Huge Difference
There’s always been a goal of a so-called “corner office” in the business world, but in the era of open-air office concepts, sunlight, access to windows, spacious common areas, balconies, and even plants can have a bigger impact than you might expect.
Brighter colors, adjustable lighting, and access to fresh air help diversify a work environment, allowing for more sensory stimulation while avoiding boredom and ho-hum spaces that plague so many companies.
Furthermore, having an HVAC system that produces higher quality air has shown to dramatically improve performance and productivity. Be sure your system has been tested and calibrated to prevent volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and biological contaminants from entering your workspace.
Ergonomic Options Helps with Overall Health
Standing desks have become increasingly popular in the last decade and the results are clear. In addition to offsetting the dangerous effects of prolonged sitting, the use of standing desks provide increased focus, reduced stress, and higher cognitive function.
In addition to installing standing desks at your company, providing wrist support for keyboards and mice (or, alternatively, using touchpads rather than mice) can help reduce RSI and their related side effects.
Proper posture has always been a major issue for workers, adding to muscle aches, back pain, and foot and leg issues, and while it’s up to the individual to take note of their posture and make adjustments, companies should know that incorporating greater degrees of ergonomic options reduces sick leave.
Opportunities for Exercise and Fresh Air Help with Focus
Not every company can afford an exercise or yoga facility, but anyone can implement walking meetings, encourage stretching or mindfulness breaks, and create jogging or walking groups throughout the work day.
That said, it’s been demonstrated that companies who provide access to discounted gym memberships, on-site exercise facilities, or even dedicated yoga/meditation rooms see exceptional advances in productivity and overall employee happiness.
Try implementing group activities like lunches in the park, outdoor meetings, and walking groups to help change the pace of the day and provide an opportunity for some fresh air and sunshine.
Staggered and Flexible Schedules Have Shown Results
Microsoft Japan recently made headlines by publishing the results of a month-long trial of a 4 day work week and, as you might expect, workers were thrilled. But for a company’s bottom line, the results were surprising. Not only did productivity improve by nearly 40% during the trial run, but employees took 25% fewer days off, the office space used 23% less electricity, and printed almost 60% less paper during the month of August 2019.
While this initiative might not work for every company, the importance of work/life balance throughout the work week has shown dividends for forward-thinking companies. Those with sales teams, of course, probably can’t afford to send everyone home at 5 PM on Thursday, so staggered schedules have been an alternative, allowing some employees to work Tuesday-Friday and others Monday-Thursday to accommodate business priorities.
No matter how you choose to tackle your company’s wellness programs, know this – talented candidates will always be more attracted to your company if you demonstrate an interest in their health, wellbeing, and overall satisfaction at work.