It’s no secret that environment plays a key role in our ability to perform well at work. That’s why it’s so important for any business owner to recognise that clever office design is about so much more than just aesthetics.
This is never more apparent than when some of the startling results of recent studies are considered. Not only do we seem to be living in a malaise of office-induced back ache, with the majority of officers workers suffering from aches and pains because of their jobs, but one 2018 study revealed that that over half of all sick days taken that year were due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression.
Bearing these unsettling numbers in mind, it’s clear that innovative workspace design should be at the top of any employer’s agenda. Here are some creative office furniture and space usage ideas to get your started.
1. Promote health benefits with standing desks
It’s well known by now that sedentary lifestyles can lead to a vast range of health problems, yet most office workers are still required to sit for hours each day. Even when efforts are taken to counteract this – such as encouraging staff to take regular breaks – there’s still no avoiding the fact that the majority of office work must be done in a sitting position.
That’s where adjustable standing desks come in, which enable employees to stand for extended periods throughout the day, thus counteracting the not unserious health hazards of sitting for eight hours straight. This could, in turn, lead to staff taking less sick days due to things like back pain and tension headaches, as well as promoting greater levels of productivity from a more comfortable, healthier workforce.
2. Take a tailored approach with ergonomic chairs
Workplace ergonomics is far from a new subject, but as we continue to learn about the impact office work has on our bodies, it becomes more and more apparent that there’s no one size fits all solution. Bearing in mind that any workforce is made up of a diverse range of people, it makes sense that one ergonomic chair may work wonders for one individual, but fail to fulfil the needs of another.
Some employees may be much taller than average, for example, while others may have pre-existing back problems that require a certain kind of support. While it may not be feasible to offer every member of staff an unlimited choice of chairs, providing a four or five different options for them to pick between could pay off in the long run.
3. Tackle RSI with adjustable keyboard trays
A lot of computer-related postural problems are to do with the fact that people are forced to hunch or hold their arms either too low or too high when using a keyboard, causing injuries to the wrists, upper back and even neck. To help your staff avoid repetitive strain, consider swapping out your traditional desks for ones with adjustable keyboard trays so they can type in a position that’s comfortable for them. Taking a small step like this could help to stop those niggling aches, pains and distractions that keep your staff from entering the deep modes of concentration required to do their jobs at full potential.
4. Induce creativity with a variety of seating areas
It’s well-known that a simple change of scenery can stop us from stagnating at work, leading to greater levels of productivity. By this logic, it makes sense to ensure your staff aren’t tied to a single spot all day, but have the opportunity to enjoy a more dynamic, interesting work environment through varied seating areas and work settings.
To encourage this, try introducing a number of different dedicated hubs into your office where people can go to get away from their desks. Use comfortable sofas, coffee tables, arm chairs and even diner-style booths to induce feelings of creativity and freedom – and to tackle the negative effects of boredom.
5. Reduce stress with work-free zones
Presenteeism has long been criticised as an unhealthy work habit, with experts highlighting its damaging effect on the wellbeing of staff. Where it used to be seen as an almost respectable trait to be persistently overworked, over tired and over stressed, it’s now recognised that no one should be made to feel like this.
With this in mind, why not foster an environment that celebrates down time as an integral part of high performance? To do so, consider introducing comfortable, work free zones, with squishy bean bags, sofas and attractive dining tables that all encourage people to take proper lunch hours and to come together for regular tech-free breaks.
6. Break the mould with office beds
Most people have heard the rumours of Google’s sleeping pods – which may seem like an attention-seeking extravagance to some, but total genius to others. Tiredness at work has to be one of the most debilitating factors when it comes to performing well, which is why giving staff the ability to rest properly makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. Sure, the logistics may be a little tricky to sort out, but why not be the one who breaks the mould and sets the precedent for all other offices?
Office design is all about getting the absolute most out of your workforce, which means that thinking outside the box and avoiding half-hearted, quick-fix solutions is key. Even if you use a serviced office as opposed to private, it never hurts to consider moving to a space that completely fulfils your needs. Only then will you unlock the full potential of your teams, enabling you to reap the rewards of a thriving, healthy body of staff – one that’s likely to stick around for the foreseeable future.