Can office design reduce staff sick days?
Occupational health is a big consideration for any business, not least due to its effect on operating costs and profits. Workplaces can greatly influence factors such as productivity and staff satisfaction, and there has been increasing interest in the effect of office design on staff wellbeing. Indeed, there is some evidence which finds the office environment can impact upon employee absenteeism and staff sick days. With this in mind, we have put together some pointers which can encourage a healthier, more enjoyable office environment.
With more and more of us spending the vast majority of the day at a desk, it is important to make sure this set up is as comfortable and efficient as possible. Extended periods of time sat with a poor posture, moving minimally and carrying out repetitive actions can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain and repetitive strain injury (RSI). In 2015-16, government statistics revealed that 8.8 million working days in the UK were lost to such disorders; this accounted for a third of all working days lost to work-related ill health. These shocking statistics demonstrate the need for ergonomics to be taken seriously. Supportive chairs, ergonomic keyboards and adjustable height desks and monitors are just some of the options for facilitating employee health.
Natural light and windows
Everyone knows it’s important to get out and about in the fresh air, but few realise the extensive benefits daylight actually has. As well as providing a valuable source of vitamin D, exposure to natural light during the day can help lift your mood and improve your sleep quality at night. Large windows in an office, which let in plentiful daylight, can have a profound positive effect. A 2013 scientific study found that workers in offices with windows, compared to those without windows, received 173% more white light exposure at work and slept, on average, 46 minutes more each night.
Adding plants into your office environment can be a great idea for creating a more uplifting environment, as well as improving general wellbeing. Many studies have found a link between time spent in the presence of greenery and feelings of wellbeing, and even improved concentration. Furthermore, some plants have the ability to filter out harmful chemicals from the air, generally improving the air quality of their surroundings. This can be a very welcome feature in stuffy offices with circulated air, which are often blamed for aiding the spread of short term illnesses.
Providing a kitchen area for your staff is a popular choice. Easy access to water and drink making facilities will ensure your workforce are kept hydrated. Kitchen equipment can also encourage employees to make food and stay well fuelled during the working day. In addition, healthy vending machines can be an easy and effective way to provide healthy snacks for your employees.
Promoting the idea of taking regular breaks to your staff is a positive step for their occupational health. Getting up and about regularly, even if only for 5 minutes, can help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and stiffness, as a result of being stationary too long.
Another benefit of taking breaks is giving your eyes a rest from staring at a screen. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and eye strain are increasingly common in office workers who work for hours at a computer daily. Studies have found that productivity is reduced significantly in computer-based tasks for those with visual problems; this highlights the importance for businesses to take eye strain and preventative measures seriously.
These are just some of the ways in which office design can positively impact your employees’ health and wellbeing, with beneficial repercussions for staff absences. These ideas are only part of the story, and should go hand-in-hand with a positive, supportive company culture to achieve optimum staff satisfaction levels, presenteeism and company commitment.
If your office is in need of updating and refurbishment, the experts at CPS Interiors can help you effectively optimise the space available. A well-designed new office can have a great positive effect on your business, from improving staff wellbeing to creating a strong first impression for clients and customers. We offer comprehensive, professional interior services across Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and the surrounding areas, from full office fit outs to small scale improvements, like new furniture or flooring. For further information, get in touch with our friendly team today.