Happy, Productive and ProsperousSep 09
A comfortable work environment dramatically affects the overall happiness and productivity of employees. A team, led by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics and leading authority on the relationship between economics and mental health, discovered the important implications of work environments on employee productivity. During the experiment, employees were asked to add a series of 5 digit numbers and the performance of the group was based on the number of correct answers. Half of the group was shown a funny video before taking the tests, while the other half of the group took the tests without seeing a video. Among the people who reported higher happiness levels after seeing the movie before taking the tests, productivity was significantly higher than those who did not see the movie. In fact, workers who reported unhappy feelings before the test were 10% less productive.
Access can have different things: access to people or access to resources. Placing employees next to each other that work on similar tasks, can stimulate work flow. Understanding the importance of face to face communication emphasizes human interaction and also helps improve access to people. Access to resources depends on employees’ ability to reach and obtain shared resources such as printers, copiers, computers and necessary documentation. Access to resources allows employees to work uninhibited by material setbacks.
Privacy is factor when considering how conducive a workspace is to happiness. The philosophy behind workplace privacy assumed many trends over the past 100 years. Currently, the trend is for collaboration. This can mean adjoining desks or individual work areas with low panels that encourage constant communication. Although this type of workspace is proven effective, it is important to provide employees with a quiet refuge when needed.
Aesthetics play an important part in keeping employees positive throughout the day. This includes but is not limited to: light, temperature and decoration. Varying light is needed depending on the task at hand. A designer needs bright light versus a sales person wanting warmer light to keep potential clients calm and comfortable. Regardless of the job, all employees should work in a space with some natural light. Temperature equally affects productivity. If an employee is concerned about their freezing hands or sweating through their clothes, they will not being doing their best work. Lastly, a genuine effort to create an office that is visual appealing goes a long way to improve the aesthetic value of a space.
The fourth factor of comfort is flexibility. A business must flex and evolve in order to survive and the same is true for that business’s workspace. The design of an office must be able to facilitate and accommodate the changing needs of an office and its employees. When initially designing or redesigning an office, choose floor plans, materials, and furniture that are easy to reconfigure.
Individuals spend a large amount time and money creating a productive, comfortable home. The same consideration should be taken for the workplace. Happy employees are more productive employees and this allows for a more prosperous company. Why not take some time out of your day to evaluate your workplace? Small changes can make a huge difference and it will pay off in the end.