7 Proven Ways to Improve the Physical Office Environment in Your Workplace

Mental Health

A woman working in an office with excellent physical office environment, comfortable furniture, natural light and plants

If workers like their physical work environment, productivity and satisfaction levels will naturally increase. But you don’t need to move into a brand-new green building to improve the environment of your workplace.

Try these cost-effective measures to improve the health and well-being of employees in your current office location:  

#1 Comfortable Office Furniture

While it’s important to provide staff with ergonomic equipment for working, it’s equally important to have furniture that allows them to relax or work away from their desk. If there is a lack of chairs for lounging or casual meetings, invest in some modern pieces.

Incorporate some comfortable chairs or lounges for workers to use and ensure there is adequate break-out space for taking a rest during the day. Workers are more likely to feel depressed at work if the environment is uninspiring.

#2 Add Indoor Plants for Improved Health

A study showed that adding indoor plants to an office resulted in workers being 12% more productive and less stressed than working in an environment with no plants.

Indoor plants are also great air filters clearing the toxins to improve air quality but not all plants are created equal. Some of the best performing indoor filter plants commonly available in Australia include the spider plant, Boston fern, English ivy, devils ivy, dwarf date palm, peace lily, elephant ear, weeping fig, Chinese evergreen, aloe vera and selloum philodendron.            

Using at least one plant per 100 square feet of office space is enough to clean the air. Even the potting mix can remove benzene from the air.   

#3 Throw Open the Blinds

Let in as much natural light as possible. Sunlight has been found to improve productivity, increase sleep at night and improve mood. If you need window treatments, do some research into the best type for letting the light in but filtering out the glare on computer screens.

Investigate if any trees outside need trimming because they are blocking sunlight from windows. Ensure the most number of staff benefit from light coming in by implementing an open plan office.    

If your office is single storey and dark, look at installing skylights in the ceiling.

#4 Reduce Noise Levels

Not all workers like open plan offices. One of the main complaints about an open plan office is the level of noise. Some workers prefer a quiet work environment, and excess noise makes it difficult to concentrate or causes them stress. Encourage staff to turn mobile phone ringtones off and to talk quietly on the phone. Keep application notifications or calendar reminders silent. Conversations between staff should take place in a meeting room or the lunch room, not over the cubicle wall of a working colleague.

#5 Air Temperature

Some people are more sensitive to temperature than others. Using an air conditioning system that workers can alter compared to a central system gives workers a sense of control over their work environment. If individuals can’t control the temperature, allow them to use small heaters or fans at their desk.

#6 Invest in Ergonomic Office Furniture

Ensure all staff have the tools they need to work safely. Some workers like the option of alternating between sitting and standing during the day. Another worker may require a different chair that won’t aggravate a back injury while another worker needs a footstool. If you aren’t sure about the ergonomic equipment requirements of your office, organise an ergonomics risk assessment and evaluation at your workplace.    

#7 Clean, Personal Spaces

Allowing staff to include a photo or child’s drawing at their desk or cubicle can make the difference between a space feeling sterile or sweet. A little personalisation of their workstation can make some staff feel happy and relaxed while it makes no difference to others. The cleanliness of the office is a constant annoyance for some people. Germs spread easily in office environments, so staff want it cleaned thoroughly. Employers can help by providing wipes for keyboards and cloths for desks for those staff that want to keep their work area clean.     

Make sure you take care of any trip hazards promptly. Deliveries and boxes should be moved to a storage area not left behind reception or in hallways. Damaged floor coverings should be repaired or replaced and spills cleaned as soon as possible.

If you aren’t sure what staff want to change in their work environment, ask. Send out a survey or call for suggestions on ways to improve the office. If the budget allows, set up a project team that will work together to decide on new purchases or changes that need to be implemented to ensure you’re providing the best environment possible.

For more information about Ergonomic Risk Assessment and Ergonomic Evaluations, call PeopleSense, on 1300 307 912 or contact us online.

Category: Mental Health