1. Create Movement
Skullcandy uses movable desks. Other companies create a musical chairs style “hot desking” situation. The general idea is to promote interaction and variety through design. The standard open office layout has been discovered to be stressful for introverts (and to help colds spread more quickly), but this revised approach leaves some room for seclusion while dedicating plenty for areas in which people are likely to bump into each other. 70/30 seclusion has been the average split, though some innovative companies have gone 50/50.
2. Mind the Lighting
Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, and the general feeling that your spirit is being sucked from your body. Natural light is the ultimate mood-booster. When that’s not an option be sure your work space is bright enough not just enough to see, but to stimulate. LED solutions from Colorbeam actually let you change the Kelvin temperature of your lights. Your monitor matters too. F.lux is a free piece of background-running software that adjusts your monitor’s temperature and brightness depending on time of day for a more natural glow.
3. Provide Healthy Distractions
Is it better to work 2 hours at 70% or 1.75 hours at 100%? A short break can go a long way. Where “the wall” used to be ignored and powered through with diminishing returns, now breaks in the form of office foosball tables and even music rooms are being offered. Our office hung a dart board this year, and I’ve been surprised at how effective a short game can be at resetting my mind for the next task at hand. Culture is key here, as a balance between self-regulation and a non-judgmental atmosphere seems to be a prerequisite for success.
4. Bring the Outdoors In and the Indoors Out
Australian Researchers have determined that adding plants to your office can boost productivity by 15%. The presence of plants certainly has a calming effect on most people, and can make people feel more engaged than those ultra-minimalist high end offices. Living plants also force the consideration for natural light, and can significantly reduce toxins in the air.
Maybe people just want to be outside? Walking meetings have proven for many to be a great way to catch up with coworkers while shaking off the mundane. At our office, Shirley actually mapped out walking paths around Union Square for 5, 15 and 30 minute walking meetings.
5. Promote Health
Healthy choices outside the office tend to bring themselves in for more effective team members. Beyond encouraging healthy living through group outings and employee contests, more companies are becoming mindful of the foods they keep in stock. When certain snacks boost brain power while others lull you to sleep, a strong case can be made for swapping out the candy for whole grains and nuts.