4 Environmental Enhancements for the Workplace
Picture your perfect workspace. What kind of colors and lighting do you imagine? Does your desk include personal photos, decorations, or perhaps a house plant? What is your ideal seating and furniture like? Are you in close proximity to others or in a quiet, secluded setting?
As you may have just imagined, there are many elements that can make a workstation more pleasurable, and experts agree that improving the physical environment can also make you perform better at work. Research shows that employees who perceive their work environment as to be adequate and favorable score comparatively higher on measures of job satisfaction, performance, and perceived organizational effectiveness (1).
Modifying the work environment can be surprisingly easy and low-cost, and even slight changes have the potential to make a big impact. Consider these simple environmental modifications that can make a difference in your workplace.
Windows and natural elements
Views of natural elements have consistently been found to be advantageous to health across a range of settings including workplaces (2). Studies have observed that windowless or underground workplaces tend to attract a number of negative reactions, including: diminished satisfaction and increased health complaints. (2). If natural lighting is simply not an option, consider swapping out artificial light with bulbs that have a more natural feel and add natural elements like houseplants. Employees are 15% more productive when "lean" workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants (3).
It is a misconception that a bland office with few distractions makes for a productive and focused worker. Rather, workers in an “enriched” office—one decorated with posters, prints, office plants, and the like—are more satisfied and productive than those who work in stripped-down, “lean” offices that are designed to minimize disruptions and expense (3). Furthermore, employees that are allowed to collaborate on decorating their offices report higher workplace satisfaction and well-being than those who were forced to abide by their employer’s tastes. They also performed tasks more quickly, without making more mistakes (4).
Consider the influence of noise
A recent study of 88 employees from two worksites found that 99% indicated that their concentration was impaired by common office noises (5). Continuous Noise and repetitive sound (such as AC or machinery) has a more negative impact when it’s excessively loud or changes and has a more positive effect when its low and continuous. Think about adding a white noise machine to filter out noxious sound in the workplace.
Modify workplace temperature
Workplace performance increases with temperatures between 69.8 degrees and 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees to 22 degrees Celsius), with the highest productivity at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Raising the temperature to a more comfortable thermal zone saves employers about $2 per worker, per hour (6).
There is much more to learn about optimizing the work environment and many cutting-edge organizations have greatly improved the workplace by focusing on the environment.
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1. Srivastava,A.K. (2008) Effect of Perceived Work Environment on Employees’ Job Behavior and Organizational Effectiveness. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, Vol. 34, No.1, 47-55.
2. Hassard, J., & Cox T. ‘The physical work environment and work-related stress: mechanisms and consequences.’ Birkbeck College, University of London: https://oshwiki.eu/wiki/The_physical_work_environment_and_work-related_stress:_mechanisms_and_consequences.#cite_note-twentyseven-27
5. Banbury, S. P., & Berry, D.C., ‘Office noise and employee concentration: Identifying causes and disruption and potential improvements’. Ergonomics, Vol. 48, No.1, 2005, pp. 25-