How Work Environment Impacts Employee Wellbeing

The success of a company depends to a large degree on the health and wellbeing of its employees. To help employees do a better job, you have to create an environment that promotes their wellbeing. Part of creating an employee-friendly work environment, aside from good leadership and a healthy work culture, is ensuring your office spaces are well-designed and equipped to promote productivity.

Working in the right office environment can make a huge difference in the productivity of your employees, and consequently, the productivity of your business. Having to work in a cluttered space with dim lights or bad air quality definitely won’t help your team work better or be satisfied at work. And that, in turn, will have a detrimental effect on your business in the long run.

That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to designing a work environment that will not only make a better impression on potential clients and customers but also allow your employees to complete their daily tasks more efficiently.

Read on to learn which factors in the office space play the biggest role in employee wellbeing. The suggestions apply to working from home as well, since employees can use them to create comfortable and productive home offices.

1. Air Quality

Fresh air is crucial for a productive office, as it greatly influences thinking and productivity. Air quality is definitely a factor that should be taken into account when creating a suitable environment. To improve air quality in your office, you can:

  • Install air filtration systems.
  • Place air-purifying plants throughout the space.
  • Clean the office regularly.
  • If possible, ensure your offices have plenty of windows to enable natural ventilation.
2. Water Quality

The human body requires plenty of water in order to function well. Both our physical and mental health are impacted by the quality of water we drink, so access to clean water should be a priority in any workspace. To promote water consumption and thus contribute to employee wellbeing, make sure to:

  • Inform employees about the importance of hydration.
  • Add water coolers.
  • Provide clean drinking water.
3. Light Quality

An office that has good lighting has multiple benefits for employee wellbeing. Bright rooms with natural sunlight boost mood and reduce eye strain, which often also results in eliminating migraines. You can help your employees by making these design changes to your office:

  • Add more windows or skylights.
  • Change flickering lights.
  • Use soothing colors that calm the eyes.
  • Remove distracting lighting.
4. Comfort

To help ensure employees are comfortable to do their work, a proper workplace needs ergonomically designed furniture. Employees often experience chronic pain and other health issues from sitting all day and experiencing discomfort caused by bad office chairs. To help your team stay healthy and comfortable, you need to:

  • Provide ergonomic office chairs and desks. Consider standing desks and treadmill desks as well.
  • Provide different spaces for meetings and breaks, ensuring break rooms have comfortable furniture for resting.
  • Create quiet zones for deep thinking and focus.
  • Design spaces for brainstorming and exchanging ideas.
  • Provide green spaces and gardens for relaxing. (These can be especially useful to help employees relax and reset ahead of important meetings.)
5. Snacks and Healthy Eating Habits

Having access to nutritious and balanced meals is an important factor in boosting employee wellbeing. Amidst daily stresses, people often resort to unhealthy food that might give temporary soothing but does not maintain good health in the long run. To help your employees out and keep them fuelled throughout the day, you can:

  • Provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Bring over a nutritionist to educate your employees about healthy eating.
  • Create spaces for eating and encourage employees not to eat at their desks.
  • Provide coffee machines so that your staff can drink quality coffee at work.
  • Eliminate vending machines with unhealthy snacks.
  • Hire a catering company and provide a healthy lunch at the office every day.
6. Fitness

Humans need regular exercise to keep both our bodies and our minds healthy. We spend at least a third of our days at work, but our offices typically don’t offer the opportunity for moving and physical exercise. This is a big mistake, as engaging in some physical activity during working hours will improve blood flow to the brain, resulting in reduced stress and better focus. Employees that have access to exercise facilities show better results in their work, so here are some tips for encouraging exercise at work:

  • Provide exercise facilities in the office building.
  • Add adjustable workstations.
  • Organize sporting events and games on certain days.
  • Do weekly company fitness challenges.
  • Provide your employees with memberships to a nearby gym so that they can work out before/after work or even during the lunch break.
Ensuring Remote Employees Also Work in a Healthy Environment

While there’s always more that companies can do to encourage employee wellbeing, there’s no compromise to be made when it comes to the basics we’ve listed. From providing a well-ventilated, bright and comfortable workspace to ensuring employees have opportunities to relax, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together to form a healthy, calm, and productive office.

But when your employees are working remotely, you need to be extra vigilant.

We’ve all witnessed the challenges of working from home in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. As a company leader or manager, it’s definitely not in your interest to have employees working from their bedrooms with little to no structure. This kind of environment, as many have found in the past year, quickly leads to burnout, disengagement, and company-wide dissatisfaction.

With a remote workforce, good leaders will take extra care to ensure their staff is just as comfortable as they would be in a company office. Here are the key points for creating a remote work environment that will help your employees focus and enjoy work:

Ensure remote employees work in appropriate office spaces

Provide each employee with the necessary furniture for their home offices. You might choose to have the desks, chairs, etc., delivered to their home addresses. Alternatively, you can simply provide them with a budget for furnishing their offices individually.

Encourage employees to make their offices bright and airy. You can share home office design ideas as a group. If your company has the budget for it, you can bring over a professional interior designer to run a virtual workshop on the topic.

Encourage coworking where possible

Provide financial compensation for employees who choose to work in coworking spaces (even if it’s just part-time) to cover the costs. In fact, you might want to encourage your employees to visit coworking spaces (if available). Visiting these hubs will allow for mingling and working in a less isolated environment when they get tired of working from home.

Enable proper communication

To prevent miscommunication and provide your remote team with structure, determine all the communication channels you’ll be using as a team and the specific purpose of each.

For example, brainstorming might be done via a specific Slack channel, whereas Signal will be the platform for a casual team chat. Setting a specific time of day when team members need to be online, even if it’s just a couple of hours, will also help communication run smoothly and provide remote employees with additional structure in their workday.

Check in regularly

Schedule regular calls and check in to see how each employee is doing. Discuss their work and goals each week. Always make sure to ask if there is anything they might need to help improve their work.

To boost team spirit and help your remote employees bond with their coworkers, schedule remote events. For example, your team can do a virtual escape room, play various online games together, or simply have a video chat with drinks after work.

Lastly, let’s not forget the role of fitness in maintaining employee wellbeing. Although you might not be able to host staff sporting events, there’s still a lot a company can do to encourage exercise. Cover your remote employees’ local gym memberships and do weekly fitness challenges. Your team can track their progress together and share their successes in a team chat.

Create a Thriving Work Environment

Whether it’s at home or at a physical office, the environment we work in significantly impacts our wellbeing. By introducing some changes to the office space, you can help create a healthy, relaxing, and productive atmosphere.

Consult your employees and talk to them about what kind of an environment would help them do their best work. Listen to their feedback and use our proven tips to design the kind of workplace that will benefit both you and your employees.

Sarah Kaminski