- 80% of people experience on-the-job stress, which affects individual and company performance.
- Providing break out areas, as well as a variety of services and amenities can help improve the workplace experience by reducing stress and anxiety.
- Incorporating natural elements, like plants and an aquarium, can contribute to the creation of a relaxing environment.
This article was written by Robert Woods, creator of FishKeeping World
Whether you’re the owner of a flexible workspace, a digital nomad looking for temporary workspace, or a small business looking for open office areas, it’s important to make sure that the environment you’re providing, or working in, is well designed and a generally nice place to be.
Careful, thoughtful workplace design can positively impact a person’s experience at work, it can help improve productivity and happiness, and reduce stress. The latter should be a priority for companies across industries, as the American Institute of Stress has found that 80% of people experience on-the-job stress.
Here are 5 ways to make the workplace less stressful.
1. Have Break Out Areas
Break out areas are zones designed to help people relax, have informal meetings, or simply take a break from their work. Taking regular breaks has been shown to be beneficial; it can improve productivity in the long-term, it prevents stress and burnout, and it helps to create chance encounters, which helps people bond and create a sense of community and belonging.
Break out areas should have a mix of functional and comfortable furniture (chairs and tables, but also lounging furniture like sofas).
2. A Service-Minded Approach
The workplace has become a destination; people no longer have to go to it, but they choose to go. In order to encourage workers to continue to come into the workplace, it’s important that companies tune into a hospitality approach.
The right mix and match of services and amenities can significantly enhance the workplace experience. To figure out the most appropriate services for your staff, reach out to them and ask them what they value, what they need help with, and what they are interested in.
Some ideas include offering food services, providing access to a gym, having nap pods, offering weekly on-site massages or yoga classes, providing on-site childcare, or simply having a game-room.
A serviced-oriented mindset towards the workplace can go a long way in attracting and retaining talent.
3. Set Up a Fish Tank
Believe it or not, watching fish has been shown to improve mental health and reduce anxiety and stress, therefore having an aquarium in the workspace can help to create a relaxing and calming environment.
A study carried out by the University of Exeter and Plymouth University found that watching fish swimming in an aquarium “led to noticeable reductions in participants’ blood pressure and heart rate”.
It’s no surprise that most dental surgeries and hospitals have aquariums in their waiting rooms. In fact, another study carried out in the 80’s showed that watching an aquarium can actually reduce anxiety levels by up to 12%.
Pro tip: Include bright and colorful fish such as Guppies and Tetras, to make it both a more robust sensory experience.
4. Have Plants in the Workspace
Adding plants to the workspace fulfills many purposes; they help reduce noise, they help bring a workspace to life, they purify the air, and they can decrease stress levels.
By improving air quality, plants can help improve a person’s feelings, mood, and productivity. They also contribute to better health. A study carried out in the United Kingdom found that having plants in the workplace increased workplace satisfaction and productivity.
5. Stay Clutter Free
Regardless of where you work from –home, coffee shop, shared office, private office– having a clutter free environment is key. Clutter free environments improve our focus and our productivity; on the other hand, cluttered environments create visual contamination, which can increase stress and anxiety.
Research has shown that when our environment is messy, so are our minds. A cluttered workspace means you’ll spend longer searching for what you need. Even if you do all of your work online, keeping your digital space organized and in order will also make your work less stressful.
Owners of offices can also keep this in mind when designing a flexible working space. Keep the general community area clutter-free and tidy by using simple color schemes that can create a sleek and modern look.