There is significant evidence to link levels of employee motivation to how happy they are in their workplace. According to the Employee Benefits website, which provides industry insights, "A poor work environment can have a detrimental impact on employee motivation, performance, and wellbeing", and this is backed up by a research study that found "42% of office-based staff feel that their current working environment does not have a positive impact on their happiness."
Employee happiness is closely linked to employee motivation, and it makes sense to address the concerns of employees in order to provide them with the best possible working environment. This is a win-win situation for both the organisation and the employees, as increasing happiness should have a positive effect on productivity as well as general morale in the office environment.
What Makes a Good Working Environment?
There are a number of factors that come together to determine what a good working environment looks like, but good workplaces will generally share a few essential features, and we have listed some of these below:
Good Natural Light
One of the major complaints from employees is often that they are having to work under harsh office strip lighting and that this can have a negative effect on their eyesight, making them dry and sore and sometimes requiring eye drops. The way to stop this from being a problem is to ensure that there is more natural light coming in.
This can mean opting for curtains rather than blinds or ensuring that existing blinds and window coverings are fully open at all times. It could also mean moving to a more open-plan office set up in order to maximise the available natural light. Helping to mitigate the need for electric lighting saves the business money on electricity costs and helps employees toward a better working environment.
Comfortable Office Furniture
Being able to sit and work comfortably in the office can make a real difference in whether an employee perceives it as a good workplace or not. Being seated in an ergonomic chair that accommodates them well and distributes their weight evenly can be a novel experience for some members of staff, who have been used to less accommodating workplaces in the past. It is definitely a way to help workers to see that they are valued and to increase overall morale.
Ergonomic office chairs are one thing, but one of the best ways to improve comfort in the office is to invest in height-adjustable desks. These will be a revelation to many of the staff in the organisation because they will be able to stand or sit, whichever works best for them at any given moment, and the desk will always be at the right height to accommodate them. These desks are sometimes called "standing desks" as they allow users to go from the normal sitting position to comfortably completing their work while standing up.
Standing up for a period of time during the working day can help employees to develop stronger core muscles, and varying their position in this way can help them to be more focused and productive. This can be partly attributed to better blood flow due to the change in position and posture.
Variety of Working Conditions
Being able to choose where in the building to work can give a sense of freedom that can lend itself to increased creativity and sparks of new ideas. If you have some communal seating areas for more relaxed conversations as well as the more traditional office spaces, this can help with the flow of ideas and help people to bond with their colleagues. This is important for office cohesion, and offering the flexibility of different working environments can allow people to choose which they most feel like utilising on a given day.
Feeling like you have a choice is empowering, which is a large part of why this works so well. It gives the illusion of choice even though all the employees really still have to be at work and doing their jobs to the satisfaction of the management team.
Some people prefer the flexibility in working environments to extend to hybrid working or fully remote working, which is understandable given the predominance of home working during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many still want to feel that kind of freedom from permanent office work is possible and crave either hybrid or remote working conditions.
Suppose you do allow employees to continue with these options. In that case, it is important to ensure that they have suitable environments at home that are conducive to both productivity and their health and well-being. You should try to ensure that they have an ergonomic chair if at all possible and even a standing desk if you are able to stretch to that.