Have you ever seen the movie “Joe Versus the Volcano” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? In short, Tom Hanks plays a man who absolutely hates his life. His daily routine consists of going to work in a slow paced, dirty, unorganized, and windowless office with flickering lights day after day, being around negative, angry people, and going home to the same dull, boring life with nothing to look forward to. Until he is faced with the terrible news that he may be dieing. I won’t ruin the movie for you, but you probably get the idea. Are you stuck in that rut? Do you hate your job, your co-workers, your life? Don’t wait to change it. In fact, you need to start with the one place you have to spend most of your time … work.
Each workday, the average American spends 8.8 hours at work or on work-related activities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s even more time than people spend sleeping. And because we spend so much time at work, it’s in your and your employer’s best interest to make workplaces the happiest environment it can be. Workplace comfort and happiness is highly impactful in retention and recruitment, as well as an individual’s productivity, satisfaction and ultimately, a company’s or business’s ROI. It’s not just free snacks, pizza or bagel Fridays, big windows or colorful conference rooms and ping pong tables. In fact, there’s a science behind what drives happiness in the workplace and what can be done to achieve it, through light, furniture, ergonomics and movement.
To ensure both employers and employees can create and maintain an ideal workplace environment, Dr. Mike O’Neill, lead global researcher of workplace strategy and market analytics at Haworth, a leading furniture company based in Holland, MI, shares five tips to improve the happiness of your work environment:
* Bring order to the chaos. If you have an important meeting coming up or you’re under a lot of stress, cleaning your workspace can help. A clean workspace allows you to arrive and immediately get to your most important task without wasting time. Plugging devices in to charge, color coding your files, even filling or cleaning your water bottle the night before can help. The more organized your workstation, the more organized you’ll be to start your day. For employers, ensure your employees have streamlined and legible space. Workstations tailored to individual and group tasks help to promote legibility in the workplace, with clear indications of space designed to promote certain activities.
* Adjust your workspace to fit you. Whether it’s a height-adjustable work surface, an ergonomic chair or even a wrist base for your keyboard, simple comforts can have a monumental impact on your productivity. Take the time to adjust your workspace and posture to fit your needs instead of “making do” month after month. And don’t be afraid to ask your employer for solutions to help. The tools you need may already exist, you simply need to raise the question. For employers, be cognizant of employee needs in seating and the functionality of their space. Not all employees or tasks require the same template. Consider seating options that promote ergonomic health, desks and stands that compliment required privacy or sharing, and structure that encourages movement and healthy habits.
* Let in the light. Everyone values the corner office or space closest to the window — and that’s not coincidence, as natural light is proven to provide renewed energy and vitamin intake. If your workstation leaves you lacking some sunlight, take a little time each day to find some natural light. A quick 15-minute trip to the office atrium or even a simple walk outside can leave you feeling rejuvenated. Make a quick coffee run or take your computer outside to catch up on emails — you won’t regret it. As an employer, it can be challenging to ensure daylight options depending on real estate availability. If there is minimal natural light in the office and you are afraid of the glare on the computer, consider expanding to incorporate outdoor workstations with tint screens, or simply encourage remote work or brief breaks to increase sunlight exposure.
* Master your technology. We all recognize and understand the frustrations faulty technology can bring. And while you may have little input regarding the types of printers or computers your office uses or in who the conference call provider is, improving your technical knowledge will lower your frustration and your anxiety. Take any training sessions offered by your IT department and/or watch available videos to learn how to use any given technology more efficiently. Run that system upgrade you’ve been putting off — provided you have IT approval. Your machine will run more smoothly and so will you. For employers, it’s critical to understand the day-to-day technologies that impact employee productivity and happiness, for both individual and group tasks. Ensure costs have been allocated to optimize technology and training in areas that are most impactful, and cut costs in areas of least impact (or perhaps frivolous add-ons that can be eliminated). Ensure employees understand training and troubleshooting that is available to them.
* Stand up for storage. Adding storage solutions to your workspace is about more than simply clearing the clutter; it’s about taking ownership of the area where you spend so much time. A natural place to put your personal belongings or hang your coat makes your workspace feel more like home. As an employer, it’s important to empower employees with the control over their workspaces. Oftentimes, organizational tools and tactics can provide this — from designated compartments, shelving, cabinets and drawers. Customizable organization and storage can be critical to feeling control over the workspace and happiness in the workplace.
Work Happier, Live Happier
Until the day you retire, your workplace will be an integral part of your life, so as a reminder, make it the happiest it can be. For more whitepapers, case studies, infographics and shareable ideas on improving workplace happiness for yourself and your co-workers, visit www.atworkhappiness.com.