However, as this generation is slowly being replaced, a new work culture is taking over. Younger, tech-savvy employees demand the improvement of working conditions and to their help come a series of HR studies showing the link between comfort and productivity.
Far from being a trend or a luxury, employee comfort is becoming an attribute of the modern workplace, one that can boost satisfaction, loyalty and productivity. With that in mind, every informed business owner wishing to keep up with modern workplace requirements should understand the influence that comfort has and take measures to increase it in a cost-effective manner.
The connection between productivity and comfort
Some building managers and business owners postpone comfort improvements because they lack the funds and they choose to spend their available money somewhere else. However, employee comfort is far from being inefficient. Although it does require an investment, it pays off. Neglecting it has the opposite effect; when they work in an unpleasant and uncomfortable place, employees are distracted. They cannot focus on doing their job, as they are focusing instead on what bothers them. Whether it’s a poorly ventilated room or a dirty office, discomfort can lower their productivity and, as a result, waste money in the long run. Needless to say, it can lead to absenteeism and employees who are unsatisfied with work conditions will eventually quit. On the other hand, making an effort to increase comfort will influence staff loyalty and boost their morale.
How pleasant is the building design?
People go to great lengths to improve their home design and make the living place more welcoming and comfortable. The same principles should be applied to the workplace. If the building is not properly designed, the staff will be in a bad mood and they won’t be able to perform. When assessing the productivity levels of their staff, managers should determine whether certain flaws in the building design have a negative influence.
For example, if employees have to work all day in very small offices or if the rooms are empty expect for an office, then it’s normal for them to be affected and perform poorly. To boost morale levels, managers should add more personality to the building by placing a few decorations, repainting the walls or refurbishing the floors.
The importance of break areas
Depending on company policy, employees either have a few minutes of break every hour or one full hour to get their meal. During these minutes, it’s important that they feel like they’re in a comfortable space, not a cold and impersonal environment. Setting up break areas is a great way of making the workplace more enjoyable and allowing staff to relax. These spaces don’t have to cost a lot of money. If you’re on a budget, you can set up a room with a TV, a comfy sofa and some bean bags. For buildings that have access to an outdoor space, creating a green corner is a good idea. In case the budget allows you, you can create something even better and get inspiration from some of the world’s largest companies. For example, Uber has nap rooms for their employees, Google offers shower rooms and bars and Microsoft break areas include multiplayer games to promote team spirit.
Cleaning should never be skipped
Investing in decorations and high-end break areas will not make a huge difference if you do not cover the basics of comfort: cleanliness. Every respectable company should have a contract with a commercial cleaning service in order to provide a safe and clean space for their employees. After all, the staff should focus on their work and should not have to worry about how much dust is on their desks or the questionable smell coming from the bathroom. No matter where your offices are located, commercial cleaning services are an absolute must. Working in a dirty space not only influences the mood and productivity levels of the staff, but also poses health risks and may cause workplace accidents. For example, if people work in an area with persistent mold, they can develop respiratory conditions and this makes you liable as an employer.
Details that can make a difference
Sometimes, even a building with a friendly design and good air quality can become stressful and, in that case, managers can work on a few details to increase comfort:
· New chairs – spending eight hours a day sitting in a chair with poor lumbar support cause lower back pain and increase the risk of other conditions later on, according to research. If you have the budget for office upgrades, then new ergonomic chairs should be included on the list.
· Temperature – the office should have a thermostat and workers should be able to change the temperature as they see fit. In seasons when temperatures hit extremes, heating and air conditioning units should be available.
· Lighting – employees should have as much access as possible to natural sunlight. If not, artificial lighting should mimic sunlight and not put a strain on the eyes.
· Uniforms – in companies where wearing a uniform is compulsory, managers should try to make the clothes as comfortable as possible, so that employees can move freely.