Designing a Healthy Work Environment

Productivity is the name of the game in any business, but who can be productive when everyone in the office is feeling ill or out of sorts? Creating a positive and healthy work environment yields happy and healthy employees. Below are some tips to help you design your office for optimum health and productivity.

Lose the Old Cubes
Large, old office cubicles can be downright depressing. They are often dull in color and very clinical-feeling. They also exude an air of isolation and solitude. Most newly designed cubicles are built to be more functional rather than closed off cubes. If you’re opting for more of an open office layout, partitions can also help with privacy and come in a variety of fabric-covered walls and cheerful color options.

Let There Be Light
Nothing is more depressing that dim lighting in an office workspace. Shadows in the corners and flickering fluorescents belong in a horror film; not in an office environment. Trade out fluorescent lights for bright LEDs. Choose daylight bulbs for an even cheerier feel. Sunlight keeps us awake, and therefore more productive. As an added bonus, LEDs use less energy. Now you are increasing production and saving money at the same time.

Keep it Clean
Design your office space with two main themes in mind: Clean and Simple. Cluttered offices often lead to cluttered minds. Encourage employees to limit the number of personal items on their desks. Too many potted plants and boxes of tissues create a feeling of disorder and confusion.

Use colors that are bright and clean. These are typically the cooler colors on the color wheel. Warm tones of yellow, orange and brown are too earthy. If you choose a shade in this category, try to lean toward the very lightest shades available.

Dress office windows with a light and airy window treatment. Shy away from clunky blinds that collect dust and allergens. Instead, allow windows to provide maximum light by keeping the glass clean and bare. A simple window scarf draped over the top can soften the look without darkening the room.

Floors should be easy to clean and neutral in color. Opt for low-pile carpet to avoid the echo-effect of tile or laminate. Deep-pile carpet is hard to vacuum, and it tends to show wear and tear much quicker than commercial-grade carpet. A protective plastic chair guard at each desk will prolong the life of the floor and prevent spills from reaching the carpet.

Make Some Noise
Most people think of offices as quiet, noiseless chambers. The clickety-click of typing and the ringing of phones are the only sounds that break the silence. This heavy silence can actually be oppressing to the office workers. A random cough or sneeze may make employees feel self-conscious if the room is too quiet. Soft background music is helpful to encourage a healthy mood.

Make a Break for it
Don’t forget to include the break room in your healthy office furniture design. Employees need a clean and friendly environment to rest and recharge. A dusty coffee pot and dingy countertops are not going to cut it. Keep the clean and simple approach in the foreground as you design this area. Provide a refrigerator for employees to place healthy lunches from home, and make sure to include a microwave for reheating them. Keep surfaces smooth and easy to keep clean, and avoid carpet in this area. Opt instead for laminate, tile, or linoleum. Bring the lights down a bit to allow employees to rest and relax. Cheerful fabrics and wall colors will encourage cheerful attitudes, but be careful not to go overboard with busy designs and loud colors.

Air and Water
Finally, remember the essential elements to good health as you design the perfect workspace. Our bodies are comprised of over 50% water. That makes the water we consume essential to our health and well-being. Expecting employees to drink and make coffee with raw tap water is a recipe for disaster. Most municipal drinking water is poor in quality, which leads to poor health. This translates to more sick-time and less productivity, so spend the money up front and have a decent water filtration system installed.

Air quality is another valid concern. Hire a cleaning service to schedule regular office cleanings tom minimize dust, and install air purifiers around the office to improve air quality. If the building you rent is an older one, consider hiring an inspector to check for asbestos and other harmful materials in the ceiling and air ducts. Having the air ducts professionally cleaned can also improve breathing conditions in the office. Large amounts of dust collect over time, reducing air quality and performance of central air and heating systems.

Health Equals Wealth
The golden rule when striving for a healthy work environment is that health equals wealth. All of these improvements in office furniture will come back ten-fold in the production and longevity of your employees. Make the investment and you will certainly reap the return.

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