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How to Create a Happier, Healthier Workplace

Posted on Mar 21, 2016, by Mike Brown

We spend around 40 hours a week in the workplace (some of us a lot more), so creating an environment that’s good for employee health and wellness is essential.

A well-designed office can actually reduce levels of absenteeism and lower staff turnover because staff are happier and healthier at work. Today I’m looking at five things you can do to create a healthier environment in your workplace, to improve wellness for you and your colleagues.

Feature photo – Zimmerman Advertising, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

1) Reduce Noise Levels

In an open office, noise is the biggest problem that your employees will have to deal with. As well as disrupting people’s focus, high levels of background noise can contribute to increased stress levels among employees.

Therefore, reducing ambient noise is key to creating a healthier workplace. There are many types of specialized surfaces designed to improve workplace acoustics, but if you’re working in an open office environment, your choice of flooring can also have a surprising impact on noise levels. For example, cushion-backed carpet tiles absorb over three times more noise than hard flooring.

2) Design for Positivity

Wherever possible you should try and bring natural light into the workplace, giving as many people access to windows as possible (goodbye, light-blocking corner offices). Exposure to natural light improves health and wellness, so consider using more glass internally rather than opaque walls, to let the light travel further through your office space.

Additionally, your use of color will impact your employees – both physically (causing eyestrain) and mentally (affecting mood and energy levels). A workplace that’s all gray or cream will seem bland and uninspiring, so it’s important to bring color into the workplace. But it’s important to realize that different colors impact employees in different ways – learn more about how color impacts productivity.

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3) Choose Ergonomic Furniture

Your choice of office furniture has a big impact on your employees’ health and wellness. On average an office worker spends 5 hours and 41 minutes seated at work, so an ergonomic chair is a must. Additionally, your choice of desks and monitors is important. Employees need to be able to adjust their workstation to suit them physically – to avoid neck strain when looking at computer screens, for example.

Adding sit-to-stand workstations provides additional flexibility for employees to work as they are most comfortable. Take a look at this infographic showing the ideal set-up for seated and standing working to avoid health problems such as back pain.

4) Encourage Breaks

You may be wary of encouraging employees to take breaks, but the fact is our brains just aren’t good at focusing for eight hours straight. They need time to rejuvenate and refocus.

Providing communal areas for eating and drinking, as well as an office breakout area, will give employees a dedicated space to use when they need a break from their computer screen. Communal breakout areas have the added benefit of facilitating improved communication and collaboration between team members.

Having a social space is particularly important for your employees’ mental wellbeing, and taking regular breaks throughout the work day has been proven to boost employee productivity.

5) Encourage Movement

Office work is extremely sedentary, with up to 75% of the day spent seated and inactive. Sitting down for long periods of time damages your body, and even if you’re hitting the gym after work, it’s not enough to counteract the damage done by remaining seated for hours on end.

Long periods of inactivity can cause health problems such as increasing the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, so as well as encouraging employees to take regular breaks, try and build movement into your workplace.

Sit-to-stand working is becoming increasingly popular to combat inactivity – in fact, standing burns up to 50 calories more per hour compared with sitting down. A little more movement each day can have a huge impact on your employees’ long-term health and wellness.

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Topics: Health & Wellness

Mike Brown

Written by Mike Brown