Many things changed over the course of the pandemic. Most notable is the shift from purely working onsite to hybrid work. One of the things that remained, however, is the presence of work-related stress. Regardless of whether an employee is working from home or at the office, each arrangement comes with its own set of stressors.
Workplace stress can be attributed to many things, from the demands of dealing with clients and coworkers to juggling meetings and daily workloads. However, one aspect that often goes overlooked is how the physical space itself can subconsciously affect an employee’s mood and motivation. Here we explore 5 ways by which the workplace can be improved in order to entice employees to come to work while addressing their mental wellness and social needs.
Having an office that employees can easily reach, whether via private or public transportation, is invaluable. Not only does this relieve stress from having to deal with traffic congestion, but more importantly, it allows employees to have more control over their personal schedules and affairs.
The hub and spoke model of situating offices has been gaining traction over the years and it is definitely one worth exploring where location is concerned. Simply put, it operates on a campus or satellite-like system where a central office or hub branches out to smaller offices or spokes that are strategically set up in locations that would be more accessible for employees.
When asked to imagine what an office looks like, most people would think of a maze of cubicles, plain walls, and maybe the plant here and there. That would be the traditional setup. In recent times, however the modern office has moved away from that to a more welcoming and open style.
A well-designed office is open enough that finding colleagues wouldn’t be difficult while also considering an employee’s need for privacy. While open or playful offices may not work for everyone and the traditional setup may seem too rigid, finding the right balance between the two can make for a more harmonious, organized work environment.
Adding to the idea of office design, facilities and amenities should also be taken into consideration. This does not simply refer to where function rooms or washrooms are placed, but what spaces are available for employees to unwind or have social interactions.
These could be anything from the office pantry, a lounge area, or even a game or nap room. Some offices also employ intentional design when placing common areas to initiate spontaneous interaction and collaboration to great effect.
Staring at screens, words, and numbers can be straining on the eyes and the mind. Introducing more color and life around the office can help alleviate stress and reduce fatigue. Having lively looking areas vibrant with color or an abundance of living greenery around the office can positively affect an employee’s mood. This small touch can work wonders for anyone who needs a quick breather before shifting focus back to their tasks at hand.
After a stressful day at work, employees often look forward to retreating to the comfort of their homes. Sometimes to find that work follows them there as well. Instead, flip the narrative. Allowing employees to personalize their desks or parts of the office brings that homely feeling to the workplace and adds to both the employee’s wellness and productivity.
As we continue to pursue the familiarity of the pre-pandemic office arrangement, adjustment may not come easily for all. Now, it is more important than ever to consider how the office can be less a place of work and more a place where people enjoy working. This begins with addressing employee stress and the way we shape our offices.