EMPLOYEES lose one to two hours, sometime more, of productivity every day in work environments that don’t support daily health.

However, there are easy, cost-effective ways to help solve the problem. Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialist firm Giant Leap, said: “Air quality, lighting and temperature are top factors for positive influence on wellness. “Other priorities include personal control of the workspace and more privacy from noise and people distractions. Given the importance of a healthy work environment to productivity and retention, all businesses should invest some time in making the most of their space. Seven out of 10 employees are likely to stay at a job that enhances wellness,” she said.

Five ways to promote a conducive workplace:

  1. Personalise your workspace 

    You may not always be able to renovate the office and install new furniture, but you can probably always make decorative and design improvements. “Hanging pictures, keeping fresh flowers or live plants at desks make a big difference,” said Trim. She also suggested improved, more people-friendly office layouts and positioning people so they have the most appealing views possible.

  2. Create privacy in open layouts

    Having fewer offices with doors in lieu of more shared layouts saves money. But you can still maintain your privacy in an open workplace. She said: “Taking advantage of privacy rooms and hanging a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign when you need to focus or using common spaces away from your desk make a big difference to a sense of control. If you do have private spaces you can use, know where they are and how to reserve them.”

  3. Bring in support tools

    It would be ideal if every office provided the air quality, lighting, temperature and other factors we want, but opinions vary on what is optimal. If you need more air or light, consider a desk fan or desk lamp. The fan can help for temperature that’s too warm. Keep a jacket or scarf on hand if temperatures are too cold.

  4. Build good health habits into your daily schedule

    Leaving your open workspace for a privacy room for even a few minutes each day is one example of a habit you can build into your schedule. “In addition, take your lunch break,” Trim advised. It’s good for networking too. Walk the floor for exercise and for a broader perspective on your work. “Drink water throughout the day,” she added.

  5. Build a virtuous cycle

    According to the Future Workplace Wellness Study conducted by View, a US company that creates smart buildings, 67% of employees are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment. The benefits could mean one hour or more of increased productivity each day. “Once you incorporate improvements to your workspace and gain that time back, invest it in your career,” she advised.

    “Write a list of career-enhancing activities and tick it off. Examples could include catching up on industry news, attending a webinar to update your skills, spending time with colleagues outside your immediate area or even a wellness option like walking outside,” concluded Trim.

Linda Trim is a director at workplace design specialist firm Giant Leap.

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