When talking about the factors that keep an office running smoothly, most people mention things like good leadership, communication, and trust. But while the importance of these skills cannot be denied, it’s also important to keep in mind that practical things such as the quality of the workplace environment also matters. The average employee spends 8.8 hours/day at the office, and if that office doesn’t meet the minimum comfort and safety requirements, worker discontent and lack of productivity will eventually set in.
Although many office managers postpone office improvements, citing limited budgets and more important tasks, studies have shown that a healthy work environment increases productivity and employee loyalty and reduces absenteeism and medical claims, so the investment pays off in the long run.
Especially in 2021, after spending more than one year working from home, employees have become more demanding of their office managers and are looking for improvements that can make their time at work worth it.
Here are five things that should never happen in a modern office and that can have a massive impact on productivity and employee satisfaction.
- Neglecting to upgrade office equipment and furniture
Old desks? Squeaking office chairs? Outdated monitors? Computers that take five minutes to boot and that freeze when you open more than two applications?
These things aren’t just annoying, but also productivity hurdles. In order to do their job right, employees should receive high-quality office equipment. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should treat your employees to the latest iMacs (irresponsible spending can be just as harmful to a company’s budget), but, at the very least, the equipment they use shouldn’t prevent them from doing their jobs. Office furniture is also important. Keep in mind that your employees stand at their desks for hours on end, and if the chairs don’t have proper lumbar support, then it’s only a matter of time until they start getting backaches, become unhappy, and that can lead to absenteeism and poor work performance.
- Failing to provide basic comfort facilities
Comfort facilities can tend to fall into the “extras” category, especially if you’ve just started your business and you don’t have the funds to rent commercial space in that fancy glass building downtown. However, people care where they work, and if they lack basic amenities, they might not have the motivation to stay loyal to you. The idea of people working into the founder’s garage to achieve a greater goal is often idealized. In reality, people want to provide professional services in exchange for a decent salary, and they want basic amenities such as warm water, spacious washrooms, easy access to parking spaces, a kitchen and break area, and so on.
What’s more, if any of the appliances malfunctions (accidents can happen all the time), you need to be quick to repair them. For example, if there’s an issue with the central heating system, you should look for boiler rentals until the issue is fixed. Otherwise, the office can become an uncomfortable place. Ideally, the office manager should have a list of commercial contractors at the ready in case anything happens. Appliance malfunctions are tricky enough at home but, at the office, they’re all the more dangerous because they can cause expensive damage. For example, flooding can ruin computers and office equipment, and a malfunction of the heating system can affect the integrity of on-site servers.
- Lack of workplace security
When you neglect workplace security, you don’t just risk employee dissatisfaction, but also high fines. A company that doesn’t put its employees’ security center stage will also have a hard time attracting top talent and management, and reputation problems might even eventually run it out of business.
Here are a few things that should always be on your workplace security checklist:
- The offices should have security staff 24/7.
- Everyone who enters the building should receive identification.
- Access to private offices should only be made based on employee identification badges.
- If the building has a parking space, it should be guarded and well lit.
- There should be surveillance cameras both outside the building and common indoor areas.
- ID cards should have advanced security features so that unauthorized parties can’t fake them.
- Security systems should be regularly tested and updated.
- Emergency exits should be well marked and maintained.
- Every workplace should have first aid kits, and fire extinguishers, and employees must be instructed on how to use them.
- Disregard for health and safety measures
Health & safety policies have always been important in offices but, in the post-pandemic workplace, they can be a major dealbreaker. As thousands of workers are getting ready to return to the office, they want to have the peace of mind that they won’t get sick there. The days when people would go to work while having the flu are gone, and more and more employers have realized that allowing one single person sick leave when necessary, comes with fewer losses than the entire office getting sick.
Here are some of the most important health and safety measures you should keep in mind:
- The office layout should be redone to address the pandemic requirements. To avoid the spread of viruses and bacteria, avoid open spaces and split groups into teams of a maximum of six co-workers.
- Install desk divider screens and desk partitions
- Invest in high-quality ventilation systems that circulate the indoor air
- Provide sanitation stations with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers on each floor
- Provide comprehensive health and safety training to all employees
- Lack of cleanliness
When dozens of people work together on the same floor, offices are bound to get messy. However, things like dust, spilled coffee, and overflowing trash cans can become more than small nuisances. Studies have shown that working in a messy and dirty environment has a negative impact on productivity because it causes distractions. At the same time, spending a long time in a dirty office can lead to irritability, which ultimately affects employee relationships and collective mood.