As bits and pieces of us enter back into the office over the next couple of months, make sure to create a space conducive to a happy, healthy environment. With rising gas prices, you may need to replace that broken 2012 Keurig if you're trying to convince employees to commute back into the office.
Working from home allows employees to customize their workflow experience based on their individual preferences. This is not easily achieved inside a shared workspace, especially when other people have a different or direct opposite list of wants and needs.
In 1909, Frederick Taylor published Principles of Scientific Management, changing how organizations view their workers and their organization. Still to this day, many employers and managers believe that workers are lazy and needy. Yet, Taylor argues:
"The remedy for this inefficiency lies in systematic management, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man."
Let's work through some common ways that you can curate a physical space that is efficient and effective for your working-from-office employees.
When we inhabit a space for long periods, we may become "nose-blind" to certain odors that are distracting or unpleasant for others. Some people may associate the bad smell with bad work, making the office a hard place to get the job done. Make sure to keep a steady airflow throughout the office, especially if your office is small or crowded. Offer desk fans for individual use or place standing fans in stagnant areas.
Not many office buildings allow candles due to safety concerns, but scent boosters, such as oil diffusers or wax warmers, are great alternatives. However, be mindful of how aggressive the scent is. It's better to eliminate odors altogether, but if you introduce a booster, make sure it stays subtle.
Pro tip: Place an open box of baking soda inside the break room or directly inside the communal refrigerator to keep the office from smelling like someone's tuna melt.
Poor lighting can cause headaches, fatigue, stress, and accidents. These symptoms will produce poor quality work and low productivity levels. The ILO Manual, Improving Working Conditions and Productivity in the Garment Industry, indicates that improved lighting resulted in a 10% increase in productivity and a 30% reduction in errors.
The vitamin D absorbed from natural sunlight provides many physical and mental benefits. So, windows are a great accessory to any office building. However, if your building has limited access to a skylight or other types of openings, there are other ways to get your team the sun it needs.
Take your meeting outside. Brainstorming with a pen, piece of paper, and some sunny D may inspire creative problem-solving solutions.
Managers should embrace their inner elementary school teacher and be creative when assigning desks. Of course, allowing your employees to roam freely is ideal, but desk arrangements can encourage community and practical team-building discussions.
At the very least, make sure departments are localized with one another and have easy access to their managers. Face-to-face desk arrangements may distract some employees, yet encouraging for those who prefer team projects. Make sure to accommodate those individual needs by communicating directly with each employee. Otherwise, allow them the freedom to move within their means.
After two or more years of working from home, many of your employees have found ways to transform their own home into a space that aids efficient and effective work-life balance to bring good, quality work to your business. So please return the favor and do the same for them.