Have you been scouring the internet for Future of the Workplace articles or What to Expect for the ‘New Normal’ articles lately? Based on our own expertise and input from industry and thought leaders alike, and to help you out, we’ve consolidated the most insightful articles and suggestions from the past few month in one place.Continue reading
A few months ago less than 5 percent of the American workforce worked from home. Today, COVID-19 has made the arrangement a necessity for many as the businesses they work for aim to stay open amid shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders.
If you are an employer facing this new reality, your to-do list probably includes one urgent item after another. Ensuring that your employees thrive in a remote environment being at the top of the list.
Then you can address “the fun stuff,” explaining how making even a modest investment in office furniture can make a huge difference in how comfortable and productive they feel.
Put IT first
Like most businesses, we are reliant on technology to function properly. This reliance may take on an entirely new meaning with a mostly remote workforce placing new and usual demands on your computer system.
Since working remotely is not a possibility without a robust and reliable infrastructure, put “testing” on the top of your to-do list. Now is also the time to ensure that ancillary apps and software are installed for the people who will need them.
Some employees may not know what they will need. They may discover a more efficient method as time goes by. All employees working from home should have access to company email and teleconferencing technologies.
Cover the work bases
Fortifying confidence in your computer network can be a huge relief and allow you to move on to some important next steps, including:
- Assembling and distributing an employee contact information list. It should include work email addresses and personal cellphone numbers, too.
- Distributing the physical documents and materials your employees will need to work remotely.
- Conferring with each and every employee—or, in bigger companies, teams of employees—to ensure they have what they need, understand what is expected of them and know exactly who to consult when (not if) questions or problems arise during the work day.
For now, you may have no idea how long your company’s remote work model will last. Some companies are even using the experience as a test run, leaving open the possibility of offering remote work schedules after the current health crisis has passed.
No matter how long remote work drives your business, management experts agree that when employees are comfortable, they are happier. When they’re happier, they tend to be more productive. While you cannot mandate where your employees set up their remote work station, management experts say you can encourage them to:
- Designate a workspace outside of a typically busy room like the kitchen or family room and claim it as their own.
- Eliminate distractions (such as a TV) and improve necessary features (such as lighting).
- Invest what they can in making it comfortable—a chair and desk are office furniture necessities that most employees need to log a productive work day.
Like you, your employees may find themselves in unchartered territory. In this case, the design experts at Rightsize Facility can help. Call us for a consultation and we will help your employees set up an organized, remote office outfitted with office furniture that will help them equate WFH with their wonderful, functional headquarters.
Contact Rightsize Facility here.
It seems like yesterday. It inspired curiosity, sideways glances and even the occasional smart-aleck remark. What kind of contraption is a standing desk? And who would want to stand while they work anyway?
That contraption – also known as a height-adjustable desk – has enjoyed a spike in respectability that would give fax machines a run for their ink cartridges. Once an anomaly in offices, standing desks are being touted by experts who cite myriad health benefits of standing vs. sitting during a six- to eight-hour work day.
They’re embraced by employers eager to tame their health insurance costs and health conscious employees determined to tame their waistlines. But the desks are not for everyone. If you’re giving them more than a sideways glance – even serious consideration – you’ll want to evaluate the pros and cons in the context of what makes them so appealing in the first place.
Study reveals risks of sitting
Even if you don’t have a “nose for news,” you may remember a landmark study led by the Cleveland Clinic. It garnered worldwide attention almost as much for its size – more than 122,000 patients who underwent treadmill testing – as for the chief finding that the media reduced to a pithy sound bite: “Sitting is the new smoking.”
A longer statement from researchers was more specific: “If you compare the risk of sitting versus the highest performing (patients) on the exercise test, the risk is about three times higher than smoking.
Too much sitting undermines the body
The findings underscored the risks of a sedentary lifestyle—in other words, sitting for hours every day without the benefit of physical activity. After all, the human body, and especially the heart and cardiovascular system, functions better in an upright position. In fact, sitting too much can contribute to dozens of serious health conditions, including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Back, neck, shoulder and hip pain
- Blood clots
- Chronic joint pain
- Heart disease
- Varicose veins
Standing goes right to the head
It’s easy to see how a height adjustable desk can mitigate some of these maladies, especially the aches and pains that seem to come out of nowhere as you attempt to straighten up after hours of sitting in the same position.
Moreover, since standing desks increase blood flow to the brain, they can reduce fatigue and fuel a greater sense of energy that can lead to:
- Better communication, since people at standing desks not only enjoy greater mobility but the ability to see and engage with people around them
- Greater productivity
- Improved attention and focus
Standing carries risks
Some of the earliest advocates of standing desks, including Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway, might say that working while standing unleashed their critical thinking and creative skills. But not even these luminaries would have said the desks are perfect, knowing that standing too long can contribute to:
- Poor posture
- Sore feet
- Tightened joints
Rightsize can ensure a proper fit
The risks make three truisms abundantly clear:
- It’s vital to install an ergonomically correct work station.
- Employees should be trained to use the station and, perhaps, switch between sitting and standing during the work day since too much of either position isn’t ideal.
- It helps to work with a qualified office design expert who can offer personalized advice. The very best can be found at Rightsize Facility. Make an appointment for a free consultation (1.800.815.8592), and we’ll make sure that a height-adjustable desk is the right fit for you and your employees.
If you work full time, then you spend about 25 percent of your time at work. Put another way, you spend one-quarter of your life at work.
No matter how much you may love what you do for a living, you could find even greater calm, focus, productivity and enjoyment in your work if you create a feng shui workspace.
Spatial arrangements channel positive energy
Feng shui is a Chinese interior design practice whose goal is to create a soothing and happy environment by choosing and placing objects in such a way that they promote a positive energy flow, which the Chinese call “chi” or “qi.”
Feng shui originated more than 3,000 years ago, but it’s taken until modern times for people in the West to embrace the principles in their homes and offices. When you learn what to do and what to avoid to foster energy and create a healthy balance, you may be glad that they finally did.
Garish lighting depletes positive energy
If yellow-tinted, fluorescent lighting in your office bothers your eyes more as the day progresses, you won’t be a bit surprised that it’s one of the first things that a feng shui workspace avoids. In fact, natural light is a feng shui ideal. But when artificial light can’t be avoided, the softer and more muted it is, the better.
Other things to avoid in a feng shui workspace include:
- Clutter, which can interfere with focus and mental clarity, from your desk to your bookshelves.
- Sharp angles, which should be minimized and positioned so that they don’t “cut into” you as you work.
- Bold colors, which may be initially intriguing but have a tendency to tire if not overwhelm.
Colors can soothe and balance
Choosing the right colors is a fine place to start creating a feng shui workspace. A soothing color palette can be found for virtually any office among hues such as:
- Butter yellow
- Pale gold
- Pale green
- Pale orange
Feng shui turns on creativity
With the right color on the walls and trim, other elements can easily round out a feng shui workspace, including:
- A desk that faces the door, so visitors can be seen and greeted in a prompt and purposeful way.
- A comfortable chair with a high back and ideally placed against a wall for support.
- A live—not artificial—plant to channel the idea of growth and creativity in the office.
- A small fountain that includes the lulling characteristics of moving water.
- Artwork or pictures that evoke happy thoughts or memories.
You can count on Rightsize
Artwork in particular offers a lot of latitude, which is another reason why your feng shui workspace can be as distinctive as you are when you work with a design expert from Rightsize Facility. For example, we can help you create a “word wall” or a collage of inspirational quotes based on your favorite words and phrases—not anybody else’s.
Call us for a free consultation (800.815.8592), and once we get to know you, there’s no telling what we can create to make your workspace as inspiring and motivational as your best day. And this is really the underlying point of feng shui: By embracing the principles, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy those infrequent “best days” every single day of the week.
You can try to lure a candidate with your company’s mission. And you can try to convince them to join your team with the promise of challenging projects. At some point, you know you had better address salary and benefits. But you can bet that while you’re talking, the candidate is looking around and trying to picture themself in your workplace. The question is, What kind of picture has your office and office furniture created in their mind?
Your office can help or hinder workplace recruiting
No one ever said that a workplace should look and feel like a home, even though more of them, especially among Fortune 500 companies, seem to take their cues from comfortable home design. Still, it would be hard to imagine conducting an interview in a conference room over a table strewn with papers and coffee mugs. You’d tidy up first, much like you would if you were hosting a guest at the dining room table in your home.
You do this because you know full well that like your home, your office can make a powerful impression on visitors. And it can play a crucial role in your workplace recruiting efforts, particularly when you take the time to understand why it’s such a draw in the first place.
An office conveys personality and culture
Just as you may refer to your receptionist as your “director of first impressions,” your waiting area makes an impression, too. Are the paint, lighting, furniture and accessories warm and traditional? Modern and edgy? Casual and inviting?
Whatever qualities the waiting area exudes, they probably carry over to the rest of your workplace, revealing a great deal about your company’s personality and culture. Fair or unfair, accurate or inaccurate, the impressions created by the design and details can communicate as much as your website—your greatest marketing tool.
An office can be a deal-breaker
Candidates who compare and contrast career opportunities often have more than salary, benefits and promotional opportunities on their checklist. While these issues may be priorities, an office can be the deciding factor when two offers are similar. Look no further than social media for proof. Employers who know they’ve created special workspaces are happy to broadcast this fact to jobseekers.
Offices matter to millennials
They may not be a force you’re contending with now, but millennials are making their presence known in the American workplace. By some estimates, they’re expected to make up a full 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Time and again, research shows that they care immensely not only about where they work, but how they work, with comfortable lounging areas tucked among more traditional workstations holding great appeal to their more laid-back attitude. If your goal is to attract and retain top talent, workplace design must speak the language of millennials.
An expert can lead the way
If you’re thinking that it’s impossible “to be all things to all people,” you’re right. Even the most thoughtful or expensive office renovation project can end up eliciting a range of reactions. It’s the nature of the enterprise; office design can be highly subjective.
This is why it’s important to work with an expert who can help you narrow your choices so that your office appeals as much to employees as to prospective employees you’re hoping will become part of your team.
Start now with a complimentary space plan consultation. We understand: office design is important in any job market. But in a competitive one, it could positively transform your workplace recruiting efforts.
They have the information you need, so you’d think they’d spill it like a fountain when you ask for it. But office workers tend to be resourceful, so even if their desk is a bit too far out of reach, their chair is lumpy and their window blinds are tattered, they’ve probably jerry-rigged solutions so they can focus on doing their jobs.
It’s no wonder they often go silent when they’re asked how their office space can be improved. And as for workplace wellness ideas? This is an even bigger stretch than the one they make to their desk.
So where does this leave you? Rather than forego the whole idea of making improvements to your employees’ office space, turn to a study conducted by Olivet Nazarene University. More than 2,000 workers talked about how they felt about their respective office spaces—and they spilled information that you can either adapt to your workplace or use to start a conversation with your employees.
Workers prefer private offices
The average age of the 2,009 workers in the study was 37, with 55 percent being female and the rest male. To the extent that their opinions were influenced by their own work setup, it may help to know that:
- 4 percent worked in an “open office,” meaning they had no assigned space.
- 13 percent worked in an open office with an assigned space.
- 21 percent had a private office.
- 28 percent worked in cubicles.
- 34 percent worked in a hybrid of a private office and open floor plan.
When asked if they were “happy with the way” their office is set up, those with some type of private office led the pack. Ninety percent of workers with an entirely private office said they were happy while 79 percent of those with a combination private office and open floor plan gave a thumbs up.
The quest for privacy was a recurring theme in the Olivet study. When asked what they disliked about their office setup, the respondents ranked their answers with authority, citing:
- A lack of privacy
- Too many visual distractions
- Too little energy
- The feeling of being “on display”
- Being too isolated
Workers equate quiet with productivity
The study’s respondents were also precise about what they need to be productive at work, with:
- 35 percent of the respondents saying “a quiet location.”
- 24 percent wanting “a dedicated office space.”
- 22 percent expressing a wish for a “comfortable chair or desk.”
- 8 percent preferring a door.
- 11 percent listing other amenities.
Workers may influence future office layouts
The study’s findings suggest that workplace wellness ideas aren’t far from workers’ minds. The authors conclude: “As professional expectations evolve along with the modern American workforce, it’s only natural that the space we work in follows suit. Even cubicles are disappearing, often replaced with much-debated open floor plans… Increasingly, offices are being designed with employees’ wants and needs in mind.”
If you find yourself pursuing this goal but aren’t quite sure how to follow through, allow the design experts at Rightsize Facility to help you. All you have to do to get started is make an appointment for a consultation. We’ll take it from there. Whether or not you use the Olivet study to elicit employee feedback, we can help you make the best use of your office space – and maybe incorporate the workplace wellness amenities that will set an upbeat tone for the new decade.
Photo Credit: www.watsonfurniture.com
Sometimes you just can’t help it. It’s easier to pinpoint the office furniture you don’t like instead of what you do.
Indecision may not be an ideal state, but turning the calendar to the new year can be a glorious way to turn indecision into action. Just as in previous years, 2020 holds the promise of ushering in new trends that can enliven your office and give your employees even more reason to enjoy coming to work.
New technologies are changing the way companies work and compete with each other. Technology is not only affecting how companies work but have made an impact in working spaces too. In the past three years, we have seen growing trends of open workspaces and even virtual offices. Although the concepts of virtual offices and open workspaces have some merits and may cater to the needs of working, the traditional concept of ‘the office’ retains many of its benefits
The majority of jobs these days require a worker to sit in a chair and glue their eyes to a screen for long hours. It’s not just that workers are getting too much screen time; they’re also getting too much sitting time. Staying in one position for long, especially in front of the computer or laptop screen, tends to decrease productivity, create lethargy, and lead to a sedentary & unhealthy lifestyle. This is one of the reasons many companies are introducing break areas in their offices.