"Imagine a world where most organizations were the best place to work. Imagine what we could be getting done on the planet if it were true” - Karen May, VP of people development, Google.
These days more and more companies are turning to practices out the ‘norm’ to help switch up the tone of the workplace and encourage a more pleasant, practical and inspiring environment. Indeed, everything from Yahoo’s running tracks to Microsoft’s impressive levels of maternity cover and Google’s game rooms have been employed to encourage a greater level of employee satisfaction and in turn, performance.
While we can’t exactly promise super salaries and backyard amusement parks we’ve taken the same principles of encouraging a better, more enjoyable workplace to bring you our own edit of tips and tricks. So, from carrying out a spot of colour feng shui to introducing a low-level of Vivaldi strumming in the background, here’s our advice on how to have a happier, healthier and all over more productive workplace.
1. Inject some colour
Recent research has revealed that office decor and specifically colour can have a large impact on employee wellbeing and creativity at work. The findings demonstrated that a green environment led people to score 20% higher on creativity tests, yellow promoted a livelier, happier and more social environment, while blue areas produced twice as many brainstorming results when compared to a red area. Ultimately, the research also revealed that white was in fact the least productive colour with employees twice as likely to complain of nausea and headaches than those in blue or red offices.
(However, we’re not suggesting that you roll up to work tomorrow morning with a pot of Dulux paint - some bright office accessories and maybe a yellow stapler should suffice).
2. Get a fun factor
We’ve all heard the stories of the in-house bowling alleys at Google and the ice cream parlours and barber shops at Facebook - and while both may seem like lavish, unrelated perks of working for a multimillion dollar company, there is in fact a poignant thought process behind these amusing work place areas.
Investing in a ‘fun zone’ at work, which allows staff to take a short break, recharge their batteries and expand their mind can be hugely beneficial for improving workplace vibes. Indeed, anything from a short game of ping-pong to a chat on the sofa has been proven to help decrease employee boredom and fatigue, increase creativity, enhance brain productivity and improve your social skills and workplace communication.
3. Let there be light
Scientist Mirjam Muench recently carried out a study to compare the effect of natural vs. artificial lighting in the workplace - and the results were startling. Comparing two groups of people (one exposed to daylight and the other artificial) the study showed that those working in only artificial light were significantly sleepier and less alert than those working in natural light by the end of the day. Mirjam went on to suggest how problematic this can be due to the fact that cortisol levels drop significantly in poor lighting conditions - which means not only are people likely to become more stressed, but they will also be less equipped to stabilize their energy levels as the day progresses.
Where possible then try to sit by windows, keep the blinds up, consider a more open-plan layout and avoid having dark colours on the walls.
4. Hip and healthy
There’s nothing like sitting dull and lifeless in front of a computer screen all day to slowly kill your creativity. In fact, a number of scientific studies have recently argued that leading a sedentary lifestyle is what leads many to suffer from age-related diseases. Talking to the BBC Dr James Levine, director of obesity solutions at Arizona State University said, "The health consequences of prolonged sitting...include not only obesity but also hypertension, hyperlipidaemia - high cholesterol if you like - cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, poor or low mood, and a predisposition to diabetes - putting it bluntly, the overall impact is early death."
As a result, more and more companies including Microsoft and Evernote are introducing health-focused measures such as treadmill desks, more bike racks and a healthy overall of in-house catering to promote a happier, healthier environment. Failing this, simply a ten-minute walk out of or around the office to stretch the legs can reap massive rewards for both the state of mind and body.
5. Music matters
Despite what you may think evidence suggests that having music playing in the background at work can boost both employees creativity and productivity. A recent study carried out by Mindlab International demonstrated that nine out of ten workers performed better and more accurate work when listening to music. Speaking about the findings neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis said “The take home message is that music is a very powerful management tool if you want to increase not only the efficiency of your workforce but also their mental state and their emotional state - they’re going to become more positive about the work.”
The study concluded that certain types of music were better for different work tasks. Classical music was best for work involving numbers or attention to detail, pop music for jobs including data entry and working to deadlines, ambient music for when solving equations, and dance music if you’re proofreading and problem solving. So, headphones at the ready...