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How to Create a Healthy Workspace


| By Natasha Dragun | November 30, 2020

Want to boost the morale of your employees and increase productivity? Here’s how to nurture a healthy office environment and help your staff find better balance.

How to create a healthy workspace and happy office environment

The environment and culture you create for your staff has a big impact on their health, happiness and stress levels. It’s not just about getting work/life balance right for your teams (though that’s important, too), but it is about creating a healthy workspace in a variety of ways. Getting it right can inspire creativity, boost morale, help reduce stress and increase productivity and job satisfaction.

And you can’t underestimate the design and set-up of your workspace on employee productivity – whether they are working from the office or from home. One study found well-designed workplaces could increase productivity by up to 20%. It’s time to consider a healthy work environment as a top priority – and that’s a matter for both the traditional office and at home.

See the Light

Natural light is essential to create a healthy home or office workspace

Australians spend a whopping 90% of their time indoors, and as natural light is essential for regulating our sleep patterns and circadian rhythms, we need to get plenty of it while we work. Sunshine pouring in not only boosts energy levels, but can ward off a whole lot of health problems: research by Cornell University found that workers in offices with optimal natural light reported an 84% decrease in headaches, eye strain and blurred vision .

Other studies show a lack of natural light makes employees feel tired and gloomy, reducing overall productivity and creativity. If your business has teams in offices, ensuring that the work area is light and bright could also help you land and retain talent, as job candidates say it’s the number one thing they look for in a workplace – even above perks like on-site gyms and childcare.

It’s not just natural light that boosts the mood and performance: biophilia, our impulse to connect to nature, means that being around plants can increase work productivity by 15%. There are plenty of ways to bring the outdoors in: think potted plants, flowers, fragrances and even artwork of trees and grass could boost cognition and improve overall employee morale and mental health.

What To Try

SEE ALSO: 8 Shortcuts for a More Productive Mobile Office

Encourage Wellness Breaks

Exercise is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your mind. An increasing number of businesses now offer wellness programs to promote employee health, physically and mentally, and many more have developed on-site gyms with everything from free-weights and stationary bikes to yoga mats and Pilates equipment.

If you can’t offer gym access, you can still promote a healthy workplace by scheduling walk-and-talk meetings, or by supplying headphones for employees, so they can listen to music or mindfulness apps while taking a scheduled stroll around the park. Research by the National Academy of Sciences of the USA shows that exposure to nature reduces stress levels, while also having a positive impact on cognitive performance. It makes sense to send your employees outside to enjoy some fresh air.

Consider rewarding team members with fitness trackers to monitor their health, and set office wellbeing challenges and targets to keep everyone motivated.

What To Try

Support Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements are key to creating a healthy workspace for your staff

Flexible work is something most businesses now have to consider – many for the first time. Creating a workplace culture that offers flexible working, where employees feel comfortable to work from home or from other locations and to adapt their schedules accordingly, helps with the constant juggle of business and family. Building a family-friendly environment can have a positive long-term effect on employee experience and health, and can lead to greater employee retention and satisfaction. Make sure your team has well set up home offices by encouraging them to do an ergonomic check on their work station (tips below), and consider technology that is portable, like laptops, rather than requiring them to invest in their own devices.

Provide Ergonomic Setups

Hands up if you’ve been guilty of spending long working days in a chair, not even getting up to take a break for lunch? According to experts, for every eight hours we’re in the office we should only be sitting for two. The goal is to have your employees standing for much longer than they sit. To do this, you’ll need to look at flexible workstations (at home or in the office), with standing desks and sit-stand stools. When paired with nifty features like anti-fatigue mats, these ergonomic workstations support your employees while they’re standing, allowing them to change positions, reduce back pain and improve posture.

The other benefit of encouraging your employees to stand is that being on your feet boosts energy levels and also can foster productivity and reduce workplace silos – where there is a lack of cooperation and collaboration. You’re much more likely to chat to someone and share ideas if you don’t have to get out of your chair to get to them.

SEE ALSO: Home Office Ergonomics: A How to Guide

Create a Mindful Workplace Culture

Foster a mindful workplace culture to decrease stress and address mental health

In an average eight-hour work day, just five minutes of deep breathing, reflection and tension release can have a huge impact on decreasing the stress levels of your employees. More than that, taking a short break to be mindful can improve memory capacity, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School, and it can even boost problem-solving skills. Consider setting up a Zen corner in your office where employees can take a quick break for a brain boost while listening to guided meditations and mindfulness apps.

What To Try

Promote a Healthy & Nutritious Workplace

Another way to promote a healthy office culture is to stock your workplace kitchen (or home kitchen) with nutrient-rich snacks – junk food and sugar don’t stimulate productivity. While this might not seem like a revolutionary idea, it makes a difference during a moment of mindless snacking. 

What To Try