With a continuously growing desire to innovate the ways we live and work, there’s no shortage of ideas for hip, new amenities that are meant to transform all aspects of our daily lives. From the homes we live in, to the workplace, innovation doesn’t always translate to an improved lifestyle. It’s important, then, when trying to improve the workplace day-to-day, to seek balance — otherwise, employers risk providing gratuitous “perks” that don’t actually improve employee engagement.
Creating a balanced workplace means following a philosophy centered around amenities that maximize wellness. These amenities, however, shouldn’t distract people from the work they’re actually doing. They need to be positioned in an area that is central enough for most people to reach them, but also distanced and out-of-sight for those who need to do focus-driven work.
The actual amenities that you provide will depend on your company’s culture. Just be sure to implement ones that resonate with your values and vision, and to ensure that transitions between work time and break time aren’t disruptive.
Below are some general amenities that can help employees destress, as well as be more productive and relaxed in the workplace.
With so much exposure to blue light, which can damage the eyes, offices should be filled with natural light wherever possible. Think about how the maximum number of people can benefit from the sunlight in your office — as an example, this could mean restructuring your space so that workstations are near windows. Additionally, invest in an all-glass appearance with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, as well as sheer blinds or thin curtains, so that light can filter and diffuse throughout the rooms of your space. This has the added benefit of creating an open, modern layout.
Open Green Space
Every now and then, employees need to recharge, and the best way to do that is to reconnect with nature. For someone who works and lives in a big city, it’s difficult to escape the concrete jungle. Finding a space with a rooftop garden or incorporating plants inside the office is surefire way to subtly boost morale. What’s more, green is a relaxing color for the eyes, and trees and plants purify the air, which will naturally help employees feel more refreshed throughout the day.
Water, Coffee & Food
Every office needs a space for employees to relax over a beverage and a snack. Providing free food at work isn’t just an extravagant gesture — it’s a great way to boost employee engagement. Studies show that employees whose employers provide free snacks at work are much happier in their jobs than their snack-less counterparts. Invest in good coffee machines that are easy to use and clean, and install vending machines that provide a variety of options for food — from salty snacks to sweets and veggies. Alternatively, you may want to enroll in an office snack delivery service.
Additionally, host periodic company lunches where you provide a meal for your team. This has the added benefit of encouraging mingling amongst employees that may not usually get to interact.
Customizable Desks & Chairs
For those who work at a desk on a computer, posture is crucial. To prevent the risk of back problems, provide a diverse array of ergonomic furniture, such as standing desks or high-back chairs. Remind employees to take breaks and stretch, and encourage them to seek alternatives if they feel uncomfortable working at their workstation.
Cleanliness and Cleaning Options
There is no compromise when it comes to maintaining a clean work environment. Hire a cleaning team that regularly dusts, cleans air-conditioning filters, vacuums, and ensures that the restrooms and kitchen are spotless. Also, provide your employees with supplies to clean their own workstations as needed, and make them easily accessible. Moreover, be mindful of any other specific needs that are applicable to your situation. For example, if you have a pet-friendly office policy, you’ll want to make sure you’re cleaning up after any furry office friends.
Library & Game Room
Americans are working more than ever before; we now work, on average, 7.8% more hours than employees did 40 years ago. This is largely due to the fact that we’re simply online all the time in this digital age. To curb the negative effects of being over-connected, encourage employees to unwind and rejuvenate when they need a break — for example, by taking a half-hour break to read or hang out with coworkers. To this end, designate a well-lit room that has a designated reading area with books, a tablet with online classes, comfortable armchairs, and a sofa. Showing employees you care about their well-being is sure to boost morale and productivity.
The overarching goal here is to get them away from screens and encourage them to socialize and relax. Note that this room should be as separated as possible from the main work areas — you don’t want the noise of employees relaxing and chatting to disrupt the work of your other employees.
Like cleanliness, people often take this one for granted. While bathrooms always exist in an office, how you design them is very important. These areas should maximize privacy and safety, so consider investing in dividing walls, proper ventilation, and acoustic privacy. Listen to any specific requests that your employees may have, and provide them with the comfort of a proper restroom where they won’t feel vulnerable.
Multipurpose Collaboration Areas
Socialization is an important aspect of office life, and areas where people can work alongside each other, or simply spend time together and chat, are crucial. As such, these rooms need to be stimulating and encourage interaction between coworkers. To make the most out of these areas, consider changing the scenery from that of the rest of the office. Place them somewhere with a nice view, and add artwork and plants. Additionally, invest in high-top, quality furniture, such as tall, long tables and bar stools, because being at the same eye-level will stimulate conversation.
The benefits that these amenities present may seem obvious, but it’s how you implement them that matters. Tailor these concepts from this article to your unique company culture and to your employees’ needs. Then, touch base with them on regularly so you can make sure these amenities are doing what they were intended to do: create a safe, creative, and comfortable work environment where employees can work efficiently, and take well-deserved breaks when needed.