The most productive businesses with in-the-office employees offer ideal office situations that enhance each employee’s work methods. If you have noticed a drop in productivity among your workers, then consider making some office improvements to rectify the situation. This article covers the most typically requested improvements, but to find out which changes you need to make, ask each of your employees or create a ballot box so each person can anonymously suggest a physical change to the office. Allowing each individual to make an anonymous suggestion can result in greater honesty because they won’t feel fear of reprisal for their suggestion.
The answers may surprise you, but since each person has their ideal work methods, you’ll get a range of responses. Some businesses that operate during the daylight hours and at night will have more security-related requests, while those requiring 40 hours per week in the office usually find more requests related to office comforts, such as heat and cooling, plus employees who want various types of work areas or workrooms, so each can perform at peak capacity. If you also ask your independent contractors, you find an entirely different set of needs expressed since their in-the-office days typically number far fewer than those of employees, but they work with them regularly.
After collecting the responses from your employees and ICs, enact at least one of the requested improvements as soon as possible. This quick action shows your staff that you care about their well-being, productivity, and input. Try to make the change that the majority of employees request first. Keep the list to physical office changes only since each business should handle process-driven improvements separately.
Variety in Office Workspaces
Despite the trend of co-working spaces and open office design, many individuals do not work well when surrounded by others. Your highest performers might do best in an office with the door shut and locked to prevent all intrusions and interruptions. They use a take-no-calls mentality to focus on the task at hand and accomplish their work. Other individuals work best as a part of a team, playing ideas off of one another.
Every office has both types, plus the rare individuals who use both work methods. The best managers offer appropriate work areas for all work types, placing the business’ productivity levels as the overarching most important goal. Meeting and exceeding that goal means providing the ideal work environment for each worker type and ensuring that one does not get in the way of another using the method best for him or herself.
Set up your office or business space to provide the following types of work areas that offer each individual the needed workspace:
- Conference room for open office workers
- Cubicles for personal space and quick consults with others
- Unassigned private offices available to any individual who needs privacy in which to work
- Assigned private offices for C-level and managers so employees know where they can find them
- Audio-video conference room for long-distance meetings with independent contractors.
Providing these diverse spaces ensures that every employee can choose the work environment that best suits their needs. Of course, the receptionist remains at reception, but in a modern office environment, each employee should get to work in the physical surroundings that ensure their highest productivity, a direct benefit to each company.
While you make office improvements, keep in mind that employee comfort goes a long way toward enhancing productivity and company loyalty. Your employees may appreciate an added toileting room, also known as, a water closet or bathroom. Consider providing three toilets, one for men, one for women, and one for mixed-use. Doing so can squelch arguments and provide an enjoyable and private experience for each individual regardless of gender.
A local commercial plumbing company can help transform a supply closet or small office into a new bathroom. Most plumbers recommend choosing the room that backs onto the existing toilet’s wet wall, which contains the existing plumbing lines. This location reduces the work required to install the toilet and saves the business money.
Every U.S. office must meet specific building codes, but your employees may appreciate office improvements that go beyond the minimum safety standards required by law. Provide for the safety and protection of your staff with an alarm system, and consider hiring a security guard. Your business’ alarm system should include a commercial fire alarm and a security alarm that the staff can set when leaving the office at the end of the work day.
Alarm systems consist of sensors to alert you of a break-in in progress, such as an individual opening a window from the outside or picking the lock of a fire door. They also include security cameras that reveal activity in the parking garage, parking lot, or entry doors. Installing a comprehensive security system that monitors security, detects smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide, keeps your employees safer, and shows you care about their well-being.
The next three office improvements center around a safer, more comfortable work environment. Starting with installing new windows to reduce drafts, this office upgrade makes your employees more comfortable and saves the business money in the long run by reducing utility costs. The addition of hurricane impact window and door improvements that feature double- or triple-pane energy-efficient glass makes the whole office safer and cozier.
Installing new windows can also raise the level of pride in working in a location among its employees. Another added benefit of this office update comes from the impression it makes on consumers. When people in the community see your business improving its building, it can improve their opinion of your company.
Nearly every office with more than two people has discussions about the temperature of the office environment. Although many businesses set their thermostats at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, most people work most productively when the temperature hovers around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make one of your office improvements newly updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) that enables workers to control the temperature in their own office.
With respect to air conditioning installation, rather than installing window units, consider mini-splits. Using a mini-split system empowers each individual to set the temperature to what works best for them. Using such a system usually results in utility savings for a company and better employee relations.
Let’s consider other office improvements that create a better, more comfortable work environment and enhance productivity. Instead of hiring a separate heating contractor, have your HVAC service address heating needs, too. While the window upgrades eliminated drafts, your employees also need to be able to create a warm office environment, and some individuals may need to feel warmer than others.
Consider providing small 200-watt space heaters to employees so they can heat their desk area to their personal preferences. Using these low wattage heaters adds very little to the utility bills but goes a long way toward keeping everyone’s feet or hands warm during winter.
Call an electrician for the next of the top office improvements – upgraded lighting. How do you know if your office needs this improvement? Watch your employees while they work one morning or afternoon, and note whether they squint or move their work around their desk. Those two things offer a clear indication that you need to update the office’s lighting.
Have the electrician install lighting based on interior design precepts that provide ambient, task, and accent lighting. Each room should feature a bright overhead light that provides white light. Enhance this ambient lighting with desk lamps and reading lamps for task lighting. Finally, add accent lighting that chases away shadows and dark corners in each room.
Aside from making it simpler to accomplish work, providing appropriate lighting makes each office safer. Also, upgrade the lighting in the building’s hallways and common areas. This improved lighting adds to the building’s warm and inviting nature.
Work equipment also falls into the category of physical office improvements. Consider upgrading the computer systems that your staff uses, including its network and computer backup systems. Switching to the latest computers may seem costly, but buying in bulk can net you a great price. The enhanced productivity of your staff will also help pay back the initial upgrade outlay.
While one or two employees, typically in the information technology department may need custom computers, most employees use the same apps and peripherals, so you can purchase in bulk. When you update the computers, purchase new tablets, too. Doing so enables enhanced productivity in the field, too.
Outside the building, you should improve the surroundings, as well. Add hardscaping, such as outdoor benches, a patio, and sunshade umbrellas, as one of the office improvements you make. Hardscapes contribute to the curb appeal of your business and make the landscape more appealing.
Some hardscape design elements, such as retaining walls or fences require a mason. These construction professionals work with concrete, cement, stone, and brick to create exquisite hardscapes that beautify and protect a building. Retaining walls divert precipitation away from the structure, preventing building damage and ground erosion. Masonry fences add to the security and privacy of the company’s staff.
New Parking Lot
Your company’s employees may ask for a paved parking lot or improved paving in the parking area as one of their top requested office improvements. New asphalt paving fills in and covers potholes and ruts in the parking area that can damage employee vehicles. Proper maintenance of the parking lot helps the staff better maintain their own vehicles.
Add parking lot lighting while you have work ongoing on the building’s exterior. Ensure that the parking area provides enough street lights that no area remains dark. Provide task lighting that turns on using motion sensors so you can save money while providing better security for your staff.
Tree care and hiring an arborist might sound like one of the funnier office improvements but in areas where the trees ooze sap, loose blossoms that spread pollen or undergo spring caterpillar infestations, your employees will appreciate the enhanced tree care. That’s because each of the problems mentioned land on their vehicles, doing damage to them. Also, if you have ever had to cross a caterpillar-infested parking lot, you know that the crunch of stepping on feels and sounds gross.
Your local landscaping service likely maintains an arborist on its staff. Ask to consult with this individual about season problems your business experiences with its trees and other landscaping plants. Proper pruning, trimming, and spraying of the landscape can prevent many issues that irk employees.
Although certain precepts apply to designing an ergonomic workplace, one size does not fit all. Each individual has specific ergonomic needs, and a consultant in ergonomic design, typically a physical therapist, can assist your managers in providing each employee with the work desk setup that best suits their needs. A comfortable work environment boosts productivity, and an ergonomic work area prevents work injuries.
A one or two-day in-office consultation with an ergonomics expert can result in each employee having the ideal work setup for them. Compare the consultation expense with the outlay of the business’ last worker’s compensation premiums hike to understand why this investment in preventing workplace injuries makes this list of top workplace improvements. Insurance premiums increase when employees need to make frequent claims, so improving the safety of their work environment saves you money in the long run.
Getting Started on an Improved Workplace
Every business’ employees will request different changes. A manufacturing line has different needs than a business office. Listening to your employees and meeting their workplace needs results in a happier, more productive office. Start your office improvement process today to enhance your workers’ loyalty and productivity. Because company culture improvements begin with the C-level showing that they respect the staff and its needs, taking these office improvements seriously can quickly improve morale and production. While there are truly endless options, these are some of the best at hand.