As the traveling period is coming to an end and school is about to start again, it is time for us to get back to the work routine. It will be another four months until the next holiday. Let’s see how we can make the office a place where we can feel good, inspired, and productive, without giving up on the good and healthy habits which we have developed during the summer holiday.
Colors can be very powerful. Choosing the right color depends on factors such as: small family businesses, multi-nationals, co-workers hub, and the age group of the clients, cultural background, and the type of business being conducted in the office. Each company also has its own identity and this should be reflected in the choice of colors. What is the impression you want to give to your visitors? Remember, the first impression can define your working relationship later. Blue and green will instill a feeling of security; bright colors are for less serious businesses. Too many neutral colors can be boring. Make it interesting by adding accent colors or other visuals.
The kind business, the type of clients or employees can define how serious or how crazy you can go when applying colors. Big surfaces will have a much bigger impact by adding some accent colors. Colors can talk without uttering words, so choose carefully. Colors can define a certain zone. The color of a door can give you an indication of what is behind it.
Positive sides of a color for the office
- Green: balances emotions, shows security, and reflects wealth.
- Turquoise: inspires communication.
- Blue: honest, trust, loyal, calm atmosphere.
- Purple: creativity and wealth.
- Pink: inspires compassion, femininity.
- A bit of red: attracts attention, call for action, increases energy.
- Orange: inspires, creates enthusiasm, encourages social encounter, increases energy, enhances productivity.
- Yellow: for mental clarity, uplifting and good for concentration.
- Gold: luxury and prestige
Negative sides of a color for the office
- Too much red: aggression and anger.
- Too much orange: creates a social and talkative atmosphere.
- Too much yellow: promotes anxiety and stress.
- Too much grey: no inspiration, slowing down.
- Too much blue: too cold and slows productivity.
- Too much white: sterile and cold atmosphere
I will soon start a new series on Sample Room or Trend Alert. This time on the Power of Color, a series that will go into more details for each color.
Plants will reduce the stress level in the office as we will feel connected with nature. Green is a calming color, a color of healing. It is proven that plants can reduce stress, depression, anger and fatigue. As concentration will improve we know also productivity will improve. Much cleaner air to breath, will keep the room cooler in summer, so less need for airco which means better for the skin as airco makes the air very dry. As the air gets cleaner, stress is reduced, so reduced sickness and absence.
An office with a lot of greenery will be conceived as a very positive brand image to your visitors. Very trendy these days are the vertical gardens, they not only bring a natural element to a space, but they can easily become works of art. Different systems are existing to keep those plants in good health as it is not that easy to water those plants every day. Look for a specialist and decide with them on one of the green wall systems: tray system, hydroponic system or felt pockets. The result will be amazing.
Check also again my blog post on the advantages of decorating with plants.
The reception area should leave a positive impression to your visitors from the moment they enter. It should reflects the vision, and personality of the company. You are a creative company, or you stand for innovation, or you value tradition as it will give security to your clients, the message should be reflected in the design of your reception. Same applies to the waiting area.
But not only for visitors, a visual reminder of why employees come to work will give them a sense of purpose when it comes to their job. A subtle welcome from the receptionist to the employees can make a different start of the day. Maybe they come in after spending an hour in traffic. A reception can make the employees feel that they are part of a great business. Or say it with words, add a quote on the wall, it can be up-lifting. Wall art can enhance the company's DNA.
Depending on the size of the company announcements will be made through different channels. E-mail or newsletters will be for sure some of them but lets think of some other ways. In general there will 3 different types of news people want to share. The classical announcements such as meetings, holidays, company events or new people hired, all those belong in a weekly send newsletter.
And it can be up to you how you want the rest to be shared. You can inform people of upcoming seminars or workshops that co-workers might want to attend. An interesting article specific to your company's field. Would you like to get to know about them via mail, or could you see a more informal way by having maybe a bulletin board in the lunch area or at the entrance?
And than there is still the fun part you want to share, it is not only business, right, spending 8 hours in the office, we are all human. It can be sharing ideas for an upcoming event in the company. A more informal introduction about new hires, or small personal announcements you want to share with your co-workers.
Try to get a more healthy eating habit in the company and try to convince them to have more salads on the weekly menu .
Sitting in a bad position can add stress to the spine, sitting 8 hours on a bad chair is not healthy at all. So choosing the right chair to sit on is very important, to avoid developing neck, back and hip problems. The way you sit at your desk influences your health. So you need a work-friendly chair. So think about investing in an ergonomic chair.
Ergonomic chairs are good as
- conform to body shape
- support spine and other bones
- reduces risk of neck problems
- keeps joints and tissues in natural, neutral position
- they can fit each user's need
- more comfortable, makes working easier
The desk and ergonomic chair are very important in choosing an office set-up, the right lighting in an office can make all the difference and can create a better working condition. Both daylight and artificial light play a role in our wellbeing. These days most people spend at least 8 hours inside the office, in an unnaturally dark setting. Make a stroll at lunch time to soak up some natural light. The light will define our productivity as it is an important factor for our biorithm, we have a natural clock inside us telling us to go to sleep when it gets dark, our wake up when the sun comes up. When our inner clock is out of balance we get tired. Natural light is easier on your eyes and is giving an emotional quality to life, so look if possible for a place close to the window, looking outside will bring a peace inside. But take care that the sun light is not making reflection on your computer screen.
Overhead lighting is not the best choice to work with, look for a desk lamp with a flexible arm. You can adjust the height, the angle so it suits the task at hand. There should be a good balance between natural light, overhead light and task lamp.
So check if you have enough day light coming in, does your artificial light sources are sufficient and is there a balance between both of them.
Noise pollution can contribute to poor productivity, it is a negative factor which is having a big impact on the employees. Specially that in the last years the open plan office spaces were getting more and more popular, acoustics is something every workspace should think well about. Open workspaces are a great way to share and collaborate but it is proven in the mean time that it is not an ideal situation. Another factor which is not helping is the modern more industrial style. Brick walls, concrete floors, glass are hard surfaces which should be avoided as they reflect the noice, don't absorb them.
A good acoustics means there is less distraction, better concentration, better performance. Sound absorbing elements on walls or ceilings work perfectly for bigger rooms with higher ceilings. In addition you can think of some dividers to prevent the sound to reflect to much. Carpet is an ideal floor covering solution for noice reduction. Easier to maintain would be a vinyl flooring which comes these days in a wide range of colors.
Re-think maybe the lay-out of the workspace, see that the informal meeting areas are well separated form the area where people have to read and respond all day to mails, prepare presentations, or have to do a lot of multi-tasking, here concentration is in high demand.
In the open workspace culture it is important to think about privacy. Movable panels can give people more control over their workspace. Does your office provide a space where one or two people can have a private conversation? Everybody needs once and a while a place where they can communicate privately be it work or making a call to their kids' school, a doctors appointment, or booking a travel. You don't want to feel as everybody can overhear you. And maybe it is not about making a call, everybody needs a place to get away. Soft background music can help to mask conversations. What do you think about an area like a phone booth? To concentrate to get that presentation ready in time, reading a confidential mail. Companies start to recognize that people need a balance between being alone and working with others around. People get used to being productive at places beside their desk, so more and more companies will incorporate libraries or cafes meant for people to work without distraction.
Also an area to enjoy your cup of coffee or a small talk with a colleague is perfect to bring balance, we can't be productive behind our computer for four hours till we have our lunch break. Take care you have an inspiring lunch area, not to be temped to spend lunch time behind the computer. Take a break away of your tasks as it will give energy for the afternoon. You will start again, refreshed and inspired.
TO DO LIST
I was never a fan of lists, only a shopping list when making a dinner for friends to be sure not to have to run again to the supermarket. But things have changed, I started to make a list for each day last year and yes, now I know the difference. There have been days I didn't take the time to make one but I should have as I'm much more focused and more productive and all is done in less time.
So what are the benefits of a To Do list
- creates order: gives a good overview over project - break down in small sizes so it is less overwhelming
- you can prioritize: is more effective as you have an idea of all things to be done, most important first
- it makes you accountable: you want to accomplish your goal
- you feel productive: it feels great to cross items off your list - you feel in control - satisfaction
- it relieves stress: you forget less - you see your progress
- you will sleep better when you make a list for the following day
A To Do list should be realistic, if not stress will overtake by the end of the day. Add also fun things as making a call to your friend, to pick up a cake for dinner, appointment with hairdresser.
How your To Do list should look like is all up to you. Some will write it down in their agenda, other will make note on their computer or phone. I'm an Evernote addict as I will have the list on my IPhone, IPad and computer so I can cross it off the list depending on where I am and what I've accomplished.
And why not making your own designed To Do list? Design one and you can print it and reuse some old papers by printing on the back. It will give you a positive and creative feeling already to look at it and make the list of the day. Try it!
FOOD / DRINKS
Eating healthy when you are in the office all day can be challenging. Preparing your lunch is one step that can help to stay on track with healthy eating plan. Make a package of fruits, fresh or dried, and nuts for the moments between the meals when you need something to munch on. A hot coffee or tea in the morning to wake you up and a small espresso after lunch is ok also. Don’t forget that drinking water will keep you alert. Make fruit-infused waters, they taste amazing and you will see it will be much easier to drink enough water. These actions will convince your coworkers to adapt healthy habits also. In turn this will boost your confidence, and makes it more fun than doing it alone.
Another thing to take into consideration, something you may not be thinking about, is the cleaning products. Most cleaning products contain harmful chemicals, which can be bad for your health as those toxic chemicals are released into the air. Many green cleaning products contains pleasant natural essential oils and are also packaged in recyclable containers that minimize waste. The air quality inside many homes can be more polluted than the air outside. This is because of the classical cleaners. So, think seriously about this topic.
How to start
- Think of a color strategy.
- Make the entrance appealing not only to visitors but even more to the people working there.
- Create a space with perfect lighting, sound proof, and ergonomic chairs.
- Create healthy food habits.
- Keep the air clean with plants.
- Start cleaning with natural products, good for your health and the environment.
- Ensure a balance between co-working space and privacy.
So, start the autumn season well. Get together and brainstorm how to make your office a place that is ideal for well-being.