25th May 2018
It is thought that the average working person will spend ninety thousand hours – a staggering one third of their life – at work over a lifetime. According to the Office for National Statistics, 75.3% of people aged sixteen to sixty-four in the United Kingdom were in employment as of January 2018, meaning that for most people, the workplace becomes a home away from home.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life.
Maintaining a professional and presentable workspace is, of course, imperative to the image of any self-respecting business as it benefits the company’s reputation and, in turn, success. Whether it be a potential new client or a new starter, the impression a person walking into your office for the first time has of the environment surrounding them will greatly influence their overall response to your business as a whole.
The image you present for your business influences more than just its success. An astounding twelve and a half million days were lost in 2016/17 to work related stress, depression or anxiety alone; and while a large amount of these cases were caused by aspects such as workload or lack of support, an overwhelming 21% of instances are induced by other attributes including low morale or engagement and a poor working environment. This goes to show just how much influence the standard of a company’s working environment can have on its staff and their overall performance.
Providing a Fun Environment
So, we’ve established that while an office should keep to a certain level of professionalism, the look and feel of a work space should give staff – or any visitors likely to step foot into the workplace – a sense of ease and comfort. This is fundamental to invoking the desired attitude needed to make sure a business thrives for a number of reasons:
- It nurtures employees’ emotional wellness.
- It constitutes for a higher level of productivity and employee engagement.
- It boosts morale amongst staff.
- It works towards a high level of staff retention – happy employees stay.
- Working in a ‘fun’ environment will make staff feel more at home, which in turn will encourage improved communication and collaboration.
- Fun breeds creativity!
Since our work is shaped so greatly by our surroundings, here are some great ideas for making your work space look fun, while keeping it professional.
Create a theme
Go with a theme that captures the personality of your company and employees. For example, a law firm might decorate their office with a minimalistic style, incorporating inspirational quote wall transfers and maybe even a plaque depicting the Lawyer’s Prayer, while a sports reporter might be more likely to display sports memorabilia, team colours and historic sporting event articles. Remember to keep it subtle and not to go overboard with tacky decor. Keep it tasteful and appropriate. The last thing you want is to include random items of decor that do not fit in with your overall theme.
Encourage personal items
Of course, employees should be expected to exercise reasonable care to safeguard their privacy and the image of their company, and there are certain items that just wouldn’t be appropriate to display at work. But allowing staff the opportunity to decorate their desks with personal belongings, such as family photos, children’s drawings or that favourite teddy will give your office a more homely vibe, making everyone feel more comfortable and happy. Displaying personal effects at work can help to take a small step back from an environment that feels too corporate.
Motivational quotes and colourful canvases are always a brilliant go-to if you are looking for ideas to decorate your wall space with. Alternatively, modern and stylish shelving units are also a great way to add zest to your office space, while remaining uncluttered and professional. Shelves offer a way to display decorative items and store files without leaving the office looking messy and unorganised.
Keep it colourful
Whether it be full focal point walls covered in a bold shade of your choice, or hints of colour in furniture and decor dotted around the office, traces of colour will add vibrancy and energy to an otherwise bland and boring office space – and who knows, maybe the visual stimulant will even eradicate the need of so much coffee!
Keep it simple
Personal items and colourful decor will definitely help to make your office look and feel more fun, but don’t forget that the goal is to keep it professional too. Make sure any decorating done is kept simple and smart. There is nothing more unprofessional looking than a cluttered and overbearing office.
Create a cool break area
Your staff room should be an incredibly important part of the office. Staff need a place to go during their breaks that is away from their usual working environment, where they are able to relax and have a bit of fun to break up their day. The possibilities to creating a cool and relaxing staff area for your employees are endless really, but a few include:
- Provide space to sit down and be comfortable, where staff can enjoy their lunch, coffee or a chin wag with colleagues – offer a choice of sofas and a table and chairs.
- Offer some activities for staff. Breaks can be anything from a short 15 minutes, to an hour lunch period, and providing books, games or other activities for staff to participate in offers a great way for them to unwind during their down time, while giving them the opportunity to either sit quietly by themselves or interact with their colleagues.
- Personalise the space by decorating your break area in a way that remains consistent with the rest of your office, but is still fun and feels accommodating. Consider things like cheerful colours and wall art.
- Most importantly – listen to your team! Your staff are the ones who will be using the space most frequently, so let them have a say as to what the staff area actually looks like!
- No break room is complete without a coffee machine! Create a workplace that your staff really love by adding a kettle and fridge or cupboard filled with snacks that will give your employees an extra energy boost throughout the day!
Be at one with nature
Interior plants offer a beautiful addition to an office while also benefiting the overall well-being of your staff, offering a visually meditative experience that ultimately leads to happier, healthier and more productive employees. Aside from that, plants offer many other benefits, including a reduction in stress levels and cleaner air.
Stock up a bookshelf
Have you ever visited the library to get some work done? Perhaps during your studying years? There is always a more focused atmosphere which usually provides the inspiration needed for the task at hand. Non-work-related books have the ability to make your work space look less corporate, while still bringing a professional feel about the place. Displaying an array of materials, from War and Peace to Harry Potter is also likely to keep you inspired by a wide range of influences and encourage that flare of creativity you would like to see from your employees.
Okay, okay. So this last one might just be wishful thinking on my part, but many offices have taken the step to allow a dog onto their premises, meaning that staff can take it in turns to bring their fur baby into work (assuming that the dog is well behaved and all staff are comfortable with the arrangement). It has been proven that the presence of an animal can reduce stress and increase morale within a team. Plus – who doesn’t love puppy cuddles? If you do consider bringing in a puppy policy though, it is important that the environment is safe and happy for the dog to be in – a little paws for thought would certainly go a long way here.
Getting the Right Balance
Further than just looking the part, it is important to also play the part. While some of these suggestions might feel as though they encroach too closely to or over the professional boundaries you expect your employees to work within, maintaining a good balance between professionalism from your staff and a cool office design and environment can be very straight forward to achieve as long as you know how.
Set a good example – First and foremost, you need to set the tone for your employees. They are only going to be as professional as the example you set for them. This does not just cover the standard of your personal work and time keeping, but also includes the topics of conversation you chose to have with and around your employees. Steer clear of talk of anything too personal. During work hours, you are their boss – not their friend.
Enforce a dress code – Regardless of whether or not a casual dress code is part of your efforts to create a more fun and relaxed feel in your office, guidelines are still a necessity to ensure that your staff know what is expected of them when it comes to work wear. While this will clear up any uncertainty of what is and is not acceptable to wear to work in terms of presentation, it also covers you where health and safety is concerned. For example, if your staff are likely to be doing heavy lifting or manual handling, it would not be advisable to allow them to wear sandals on their feet in case of an accident or injury.
Separate the break area from the workspace – Taking a small break from work is a must if you expect to maintain productivity and motivation throughout the day, however, this should not be at the expense of other staff members who are still trying to work.
Set goals – Having goals gives you something to work towards each day, and setting objectives ahead of time will give your staff something to constantly strive for. Rather than waiting around for a new task to be delegated to them, they are able to manage their own workload, which demonstrates to your workforce that you trust them to stay on top of their own responsibilities. Let’s face it – who doesn’t want to work harder when they feel that their employer shows confidence in their abilities?
Have a positive and professional attitude – At the end of the day, you are the one who can set the appropriate tone in your office. Show your employees how to stay positive and professional at work and still have fun – they will be sure to follow suit!
Remember that it only takes one person to make a difference. Tell your staff when they are doing a great job – but equally, don’t be afraid to sit them down for a chat if things aren’t quite on track.
Clarisse works on our Customer Care Team to provide all of our customers to very best care and guidance when using their HR software.