10 Ways to Create a Human-Friendly Office

How to Make a Human Friendly Office

Some startups may get off the ground in a basement or garage, but once your business is big enough to have an office, it’s important to not just toss together a bunch of desks, chairs, and computers. Your office is where your company makes its money, and the office should be a comfortable, welcoming environment.

Want to make your office a happier place for your employees? Whether you have cubicles or an open-plan office space — both of which have their drawbacks — or private offices for each employee, there are ways you can make your office more comfortable. After all, happier employees are more productive, take less sick leave, and are more committed to their jobs.

1. Make the office comfortable

Make the office comfortableIt should be obvious that your employees’ comfort should be your first consideration, but often isn’t. Too many businesses scrimp when it comes to office furniture, and this leads many employees to have back pain, and when they’re not comfortable, their productivity takes a hit.

Look into ergonomic chairs, lumbar cushions, and standing desks for those who want that option. Flexibility allows individual employees to choose what works best for them; don’t force all employees to use a standing desk just because it’s trendy.

2. Create quiet spaces

Employees need breaksYou know your employees can’t be at their peak all day long; they need to take breaks. These might be just a few minutes to have a cup of coffee or tea, or to get a brief change of scenery.

If you have outdoor spaces where your employees can go to get some fresh air, set up some picnic tables so they can sit outside for if we minutes. If not, have some spaces in the office where they can breathe, meditate, or even take a short nap when they need to unplug.

3. Add decorations

Add office decorationsYour employees spend a long time in your office, so you should make it attractive. It doesn’t have to have frilly curtains or fancy wallpaper, but think about how to make it look less like an office.

Perhaps add some splashes of color to relieve the monotony of white walls. Add some artwork; not those cheesy inspirational photos you see in many offices, but real art. Find some local artists or photographers and support them, and change the artwork every few months. And let your employees weigh in on how they want the office to look.

4. Offer break room amenities

Offer break room amenities Everyone needs to take breaks. Make sure that your teams can have coffee, tea, infusions, and healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruits, crackers and guacamole, or something similar.

And be sure to have a big enough refrigerator (or multiple refrigerators) so they can all store their lunches or break food.

5. Make it shine

Office lightingSome time ago, it was standard to just screw a bunch of neon lights on the ceiling of every office. But now, it has become obvious that this is not the way to make people comfortable or efficient.

The best option is natural light, but you may not have enough windows for this. LED lights are cheaper and have a better color temperature than other types of lights, and also give off less heat. Make sure everyone has an LED desk lamp for when they need extra light.

6. Add plants

Add office plantsNo one likes being cooped up indoors all day, and, while having plants in the office doesn’t replace the ability to go outside, it certainly helps make the office space more friendly.

There are plenty of plants and even trees that can live in an office, but make sure you choose plants that won’t bother those with allergies. Let employees take care of watering them, perhaps on rotation, so they feel more involved in maintaining the atmosphere.

7. Provide books

Provide office booksProvide some space for an office library, where employees can bring in books they’ve read to share with others. And stock it with books you want your employees to read, too.

Need some ideas for books to grow your office library? Every month we review a new business book you might find interesting. Or alternatively, here are 5 SaaS books every startup leader should read.

8. Offer storage space

Offer storage spaceNothing is more depressing than seeing clutter in an office. Sure, some employees may be natural clutterers, and let them organize their desks as they want.

But make sure there’s enough storage for all the stuff that piles up in your office, from stationary to toner, from mailers to cartons.

9. Optimize temperature and air quality

Optimize temperature and air qualityThere is a tendency to make offices too cold in summer and too hot in winter. Let employees decide the office temperature, but don’t let the men in suits turn down the thermostat so the women in skirts are cold. Provide sweaters and light blankets for when it’s chilly, especially in your relaxation spaces.

Also, use HEPA air filters to keep the air clean. It’s not just people with allergies and asthma that suffer when the air is full of pollen, dust, and volatile organic compounds, everyone is affected and may get tired from dirty air.

10. Make the office optional

Allow employees to work from homeNot everyone needs to work in the office all the time. Let people work from home, either one day a week or more often. If they do work at home a lot, help them set up a comfortable home office so they can be productive in their own environment.

 

What are some things you have done to create a human-friendly office? Did we miss something? Have a question or other feedback about this story? Drop us a comment below.

Kirk McElhearn has been writing about technology and business for more than 15 years. He has written for national publications, has authored or co-authored more than two dozen books about technology, and writes for a number of publications and blogs. Find out more about Kirk on his blog Kirkville, or follow him on Twitter @mcelhearn.