Companies that go green reap all sorts of benefits; they save money on energy bills, receive tax credits and promote positive public relations. They also have a healthier workforce. Research shows that employees who work in an office space with sustainable practices are more likely to be productive and healthy.
To boost employee engagement and productivity, employers can take steps to make their office spaces more sustainable. Studies conducted by researchers at Harvard University, Exeter University and the American Society of Interior Designers have found that employees experience improved concentration, cognition and sleep quality, as well as decreased sick-related absences, when they work in a sustainable environment. These benefits to their personal well-being result in a more productive workplace.
A study published in a 2009 article in the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management examined the impact of office design on employees’ productivity at 31 bank branches of 13 banks. The effects of furniture, noise, lighting, temperature and spatial arrangements on productivity were examined. Results showed that the main factor that impacted worker productivity was lighting. Both artificial and natural light affect employees' moods and energy.
Ways to Make an Office Space More Sustainable
Improving productivity means paying attention to employees and office space design. This includes evaluating design elements such as lighting and greenery. It also means getting employees engaged through different initiatives, such as a recycling or power-saving program. Consider the type of lighting in your workplace. Is the office bright and clean or dingy and dark? Do you have windows that let in natural light, or is the office in a basement or the inner part of a building? If you've got access to windows, avoid room-darkening shades or blinds. Make sure to have staff open up the blinds or shades to let in as much natural light as possible at the beginning of the day. If there's no way to try to incorporate more natural light, add more ceiling lights or lamps, or rearrange furniture so employees' work areas capture as much light as possible. A greater use of natural light can also cut down on energy costs. If you have to add more lights, try to find ones with energy-saving features, and use LED bulbs.
Going green sends a positive message to your customers and the public at large, but it also sends a positive message to your employees. Get them engaged by asking them for their input on how to make their office space more sustainable and comfortable. Ask them for their help in reducing waste and reusing items around the office. Sponsor an office contest that awards the employee who recycles the most items. This gets the competitive spirit flowing and helps employees feel good about their contributions to sustainability.
Making your office space a more productive workplace is not as difficult as you might think. Engage your employees in your efforts to be a more sustainable business, and design the work environment so it maximizes your employees' potential.
Photo courtesy of Level Office at Flickr.com