Decades ago, a day at the office usually meant punching the clock at 9 in the morning and going back home at 5. The average office worker’s workday has become more demanding over the years, though. Many employees spend most of their waking hours at their offices. It isn’t uncommon to see workers eat three meals a day there. Yet, with the exception of large companies, many businesses offer their workers nothing more than a vending machine and a water cooler.
Businesses need to realize that when people spend as much time at work as they used to spend at home, they need to be provided with the kind of comforts they would take for granted in a home office. When workers don’t feel comfortable spending long hours in the place they work, they are bound to get frustrated and lose their edge.
Businesses often invest a fortune in stylish and modern office design, but it may not occur to them that stylish and modern may not help productivity as much as simple comfort might. Here are a few affordable steps to turn your office into a place your workers will hate to leave.
Start with food and beverages
People tend to instinctively associate food with home. An office that thoughtfully provides for the food-related needs of its workers can easily earn their loyalty and support. A high-quality, glass-fronted beverage fridge stocked with health drinks and caffeinated beverages serves two purposes. To begin, it can make workers feel cared for when they are able to reach for a drink when they need one.
Second, caffeine is a great productivity booster. To offer a free and plentiful supply of popular caffeinated drinks at the office is an effective way to boost productivity. Your office’s supply of caffeine doesn’t only need to come from Red Bull. It can come from an espresso machine, too. The very existence of an espresso machine can be good for employee morale.
Help employees hate meetings less
Many office workers dislike conferences and meetings. The consider them long, pointless and boring. The fact that they are often held in sterile conference rooms only makes them worse. It’s a good idea to hold meetings in rooms that inspire – rather than rooms that put people to sleep. Try setting up some of your meeting rooms with sofas and coffee tables instead of office chairs and traditional conference room tables. Having a variety of meeting space to choose from can let team members choose the space that best fits the type of meeting they’re going to have.
Build an office recreation room
A recent story in the Washington Post talks about how government employees with the Environmental Protection Agency in the US were caught using a large EPA warehouse for recreation purposes. They had marked out a large area, hidden it behind huge stacks of boxes and turned it into a wonderful relaxation spot complete with televisions, games, a food court and even a large athletic center. The workers behind the arrangement are being punished for procuring the items they used illegally. While the strategies to put the rec area in place may be questionable, the idea of giving employees a spot for R&R is a good one.
When a business expects its workers to put in long hours, it is only fair that it should give them a chance to unwind once in a while. Sometimes, all it takes to keep workers happy at an office is a spot with some comfortable chairs for some peace and quiet, a television with a video game, and perhaps a treadmill to work off some steam. These are inexpensive and great for morale.
Rose Donner is a longtime business management professor. She likes to educate others by sharing her insights online. She recommends Rapid Office if you are looking for reliable yet affordable office furniture.