When it comes to the topic of avoiding burnout, areas like work-life balance and company vacation policies typically come to mind for entrepreneurs and working professionals alike. Yet, an area that could have a profound impact on your employee’s overall satisfaction in the workplace that is too often overlooked is your company’s office space. From general design to the ins and outs of your kitchen, the environment your office facilitates to employees can have a profound effect on reducing or exacerbating burnout—which can, in turn, improve or damage your bottom line.
A company filled with workers who are approaching burnout will likely hurt team chemistry, and even overall performance metrics. Here are 5 strategies to keep in mind related to office design that can help transform the mood of your workplace from mediocre to memorable, increasing productivity and employee well-being across the board.
#1. Open offices aren’t always the answer.
With the meteoric rise of coworking spaces and shared office spaces, many startups and other businesses have adopted the open office style—believing it will improve cross-team communication and the isolation of cubicles. Yet, recent research has illustrated open offices might not be as beneficial as the business world has perceived them to be.
In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Harvard Business School, open offices actually decreased the volume of face-to-face interaction by a whopping 70%. On top of that, a report covered in Forbes claimed that one-third of surveyed workers feel distractions and noise from open work spaces actually hinders their productivity, while 1 in 6 say it presents hurdles for their creativity as well.
#2. Brighten up your workspace.
As consumers, there’s a psychological reason why we feel more cheery inside a brightly lit Target than we do a dreary, dark Walmart: the lighting. Much like seasonal mood swings become more common during the winter months when the sun sets earlier than normal, dimly lit stores don’t give customers the same positive stimuli that bright ones do.
The same principle applies to office spaces. If your office is illuminated with a solid amount of natural light, your employees will feel more at ease, cozy and congenial than they would in a darker, duller workspace. Baruj Avram is the CEO of US-based Titanium Group, which is one of Panama’s largest real estate developers, a company that specializes in everything from commercial to residential to mixed-use projects in real estate.
The Titanium Group is avid about keeping office spaces well-illuminated, and are proponents of the close association between office design and workplace productivity—which has been one of the keys to their sustained success and popularity over the 58 years they’ve been in business.
“We may think that creativity, productivity and generating more sales are concepts that don’t go together in the same sentence. However, the design of your office is crucial when it comes to sales—along with finding the balance between that creative touch that gives personality to your business, the productivity of your employees and your bottom line.”
– Baruj Avram, Founder of Titanium Group.
#3. Invest in standing desks.
With research from Mayo Clinic and various other reputable publications highlighting the health risks of prolonged sitting, standing desks have seen a noticeable surge in popularity in recent years. From an increased risk of obesity to higher blood pressure to abnormal cholesterol levels, the potential damage from prolonged periods of sitting on a regular basis span far and wide.
By giving your employees the option to get reimbursed for their purchase of a standing desk, it can help them gain mental clarity by being more active throughout their otherwise sedentary days. Even if most or all of your employees opt out of receiving the standing desk, simply giving them the option to purchase one will bolster team morale and reinforce your company’s dedication to the people who make it run effectively day in and day out. This will help combat not only the health risks associated with prolonged sitting, but employee burnout and fatigue as well.
#4. Provide healthy snack options.
When it comes to team morale and good will between employers and employees, oftentimes it’s the thought that counts. Showing workers you’re willing to go above and beyond to make their workplace a welcoming environment is an effective way to increase employee retention and avoid them burning out. One way to illustrate this is by offering a wide variety of snacks in your company’s kitchen—from pretzels to Clif Bars to bananas.
On top of that, a great diet has been proven to enhance cognitive function—so a healthy company kitchen could improve overall company productivity as well. Whether you already stock your kitchen with snacks or are still on the fence about it, it could be a terrific way to keep employees satisfied over the long run.
#5. Rethink your vacation policy.
In 2017, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that 53% of U.S. workers feel it’s very important to have an employer who encourages them to have more work-life balance. As a result, one way companies have tried to appease workers in recent years is adopting an unlimited PTO policy. Contrary to common belief though, an unlimited vacation policy may actually lead to more disgruntled employees and a higher chance of burnout.
Why? Despite unlimited PTO sounding employee-friendly on the surface, it may actually lead to workers taking less time off given there are no clear expectations on how much PTO to take per year. This leaves the precedent to be set by company culture, middle management or elsewhere as opposed as it being set from the top-down. At your company, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each option and take inventory on your company culture prior to diving headfirst into one option or another.