When it comes to happy and relaxed employees who perform to the max, think creatively, and help their company succeed, look no further than Google’s global office spaces. Famous for its philosophy that stress-free environments boost productivity and employee satisfaction, Google encourages its workers to innovate, collaborate, and relax on the job.
Unconventional office space designs are the name of the game in Google headquarters, which feature futuristic designs, far-out displays of furniture, graphical wallpaper, and high-tech gadgets. Google also allows its staff to take naps and use social media during work hours, chill out in dimly lit relaxation pods, and work from home.
Why break the mold and do away with conventional white-walled cubicles and standard office furniture? According to Google and blue-chip companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, flexible workplaces and schedules make for happier employees, which is good for business. Moreover, they claim that stress-free workplace environments inspire creative genius from their team.
Google’s best work practices are reflected in their unconventional, avant-garde office designs, where it is not uncommon to find:
- No walls (open working spaces)
- Fireman pole access between floors
- Slide to the cafeteria
- Free food 24/7
- Beanbag chairs and sofas
- Dimly lit pods for hanging out and relaxing
- Game rooms for brainstorming
- Ski box and igloo-shaped meeting spaces
Backing up the claims of the tech giant and other industry moguls are Jenny Foss – career coach, author, and founder of JobJenny.com – and Sherry Burton Ways, author of Amazon #1 Bestseller Feel Good Spaces: A Guide to Decorating Your Home for Body, Mind And Spirit. According to Foss, many people suffer both physical and emotional stress in the workplace. However the culprits are not only project deadlines, mounds of paperwork, and daily tasks, but the physical environment as well. As Burton Ways explains, “Marketing research has shown that approximately 80% of what we perceive or experience is based upon the visual sense of our environment. Most office design is uninspired. Therefore, work environments create uninspired and stressful employees.”
Other contributors to stress in the workplace include poor temperature control, poor ventilation
and/or lighting, lack of privacy, noise, and disorganization. In fact, according to experts, productivity levels are directly related to levels of organization. Clutter, misplaced files and phone numbers, and poor management can bring workers down and leave them feeling flustered, disgruntled, and out of control. A recent study conducted by the advisory company CEB found that poor communication and organization in the upper brass, as well as recurrent organizational changes, significantly contributes to a stressful atmosphere.
Fortunately, even if your company can’t mimic the science-fiction-like scenarios found at Google, here are some tips for employers and employees on how to create a less stressful workplace environment.
- Add personal touches which comfort and/or inspire you
- Keep your personal work space tidy and organized
- Develop ways to handle/ignore distractions
- If your back is to the door, add a mirror to your monitor that will allow you to view people coming and going to help decrease anxiety and put you at ease.
- Add plants or flowers to your office space, which are known to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, lower humidity levels, and increase positive feelings
- Incorporate stretching exercises and relaxation into your workday, i.e., playing soft music,
doing simple desk stretches, and going for walk on your break
- Be comfortable at your work station. Make sure you sit on a good quality ergonomic office chair, adjusted to your height and size.
- Decorate/redecorate your office space, paying attention to factors such as natural and ambient lighting, wall colors, ergonomic furniture, flexible layout, and décor
Close your eyes take 5 deep breaths and go to your happy place.
Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.