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Help Your Employees Become Happier, Healthier & 32% More Productive

Did you know that employees who have control over the design and organisation of their personal workspace are happier, healthier and up to 32% more productive?

Research conducted with over 2000 office workers, by Dr Craig Knight from the University of Exeter in the UK, reveals that simply allowing employees to enrich their workspaces using plants and artwork can make great improvements in comfort, wellbeing and productivity.

Now I know that a beautiful plant or picture near my desk makes me feel better, but I wonder how many organisations consciously take this into account when designing or decorating their offices? And how many encourage their staff to personalise their office space?

“Space has a massive impact on our comfort, contentment and identity.  When people feel uncomfortable in their surroundings, they are less engaged,” said Dr Knight. “We consistently found that employees working in environments enriched with plants or artwork, and those who were empowered to realise something of their own identity in their workspaces, felt physically more comfortable at work, identified more with their employers, were more productive and felt more positive about their jobs.”

Ray Borg, Regional Director of interior plantscaping business Ambius is encouraging businesses to realise the benefits of making small changes.  “Business owners and managers focused on cutting costs often reduce what are seen as discretionary items such as planting and pictures,” said Borg. “However, this research suggests business productivity could be hindered as a result.  By working with employees to enrich their workspaces businesses can help them feel more engaged while also reducing complaints about indoor environment and air quality.”

You may have recently read the recent article in The Australian, in which BHP’s “Office Environment Standard” is addressed. The standard imposes restrictions on its staff’s work stations and, according to the article, “workers are told in the memo that cleaners will inspect their desks each night and throw away anything apart from a monitor, docking station, keyboard, mouse, phone and ‘one framed picture’ “.

Only one framed picture!

Now, I’m not suggesting that a desk cluttered with pictures and personal items is the ideal option. However, I wonder what impact such restrictions will have on the happiness and wellbeing of BHP’s staff?

A spokeswoman for BHP said “the ‘clean desk practice’ was all about encouraging security of information and creating flexibility in the use of work stations, including for employees who regularly travel between BHP offices”. This statement on the surface seems reasonable. However, it appears that BHP may be creating a blanket rule across the organisation, to cover off on any eventuality, rather than entrusting it’s staff with the foresight to appropriately manage work stations dependant on their use.

What considerations do you take in your organisation with regards to your staff’s work stations? Have you ever even consciously thought about it? Is there an unwritten ‘code of behaviour’? Or perhaps you have a stringent and detail policy like BHP?

Our office is quite small, and at this stage staff are able to establish their own ways of managing and decorating their desks, as long as it is a pleasant and productive area for them. I can see however, from Dr Knight’s research, that it will be important in the future to facilitate and encourage appropriate work stations to suit the individual, as well as creating happy and inspiring communal areas.

What does your office space look like? Have you spoken to your staff about how they might like to personalise the office space? We’d love to hear from you!

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