Design matters — only 1 in 4 U.S. workers are in optimal workplace environments. The rest struggle to work effectively, resulting in lost productivity, innovation and engagement — concerns that are amplified in a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are working in an office, your physical work environment can work against or in support of your team’s well-being. Research shows that office updates like better lighting and ventilation improves workers’ performance, sleep and boosts their productivity. An energizing work environment promotes physical, emotional and social well-being.
Amid COVID-19 concerns, healthy buildings are more important than ever. Building optimizations like improved ventilation and stronger cleaning protocols are a must, experts say. Although these safety measures cost money, there are less expensive office updates that also can make a big difference in supporting employee well-being along the way.
6 office updates to improve employee well-being
- Create spaces for focused, uninterrupted work with designated quiet zones. Account for varying personalities and assess the level of focused work people can do in their work areas — is it too loud? Is there too much foot traffic? Accommodating everyone’s needs is hard but dedicating space will help.
- Designate safe areas for people to meet, connect and collaborate. These flexible spaces should feel positive, encourage movement and foster interaction — think whiteboards, energizing colors and plenty of space for social distancing.
- Adjust food-service to provide healthy options safely. If your company provides food to its employees — a definite plus where well-being is concerned — stagger mealtimes to prevent people from gathering in a group. The CDC advises options such as “grab-and-go” bagged lunches or meal delivery.
- Offer on-site resources for well-being improvement — things like natural light or well-lit and ventilated spaces, walking paths and safe lactation rooms.
- Post motivational reminders in the kitchen, restrooms and common areas to encourage healthy activities like handwashing and social distancing. The CDC offers free print materials to support its COVID-19 recommendations.
- Give employees freedom to make their spaces their own. Offer options like standing desks or fit balls to boost productivity. Studies show that employees who decide when, where and how they work are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, perform better and view their company as more innovative than competitors. This flexibility goes a long way toward helping employees feel cared for during times of crisis.