There are many benefits of a healthy working environment, including increased productivity, happier employees, reduced absence and general wellness. Adopting as many of the following suggestions as you can will improve your day and that of your colleagues. Your boss will be happy too, due to the happier, healthier environment you have created.
1) Get moving
Encouraging regular exercise and activity is a great way of improving the general health of employees. This could be an initiative to get people riding bikes to work, after work sporting activities, or simply going for a walk during the lunch break.
Any increase in the normal activity level is a good thing, start small and build, even taking the stairs instead of the lift is healthier.
One way of encouraging colleagues to take more exercise is to offer incentives, run a competition or make the exercise activities fun (obstacle course, team building etc).
2) The colour of inspiration
Different colours effect us in different ways. Decorating your offices using the correct colours can have a big effect on creativity, productivity and mood:
- Orange: evokes excitement, enthusiasm and energy
- Red: Known to increase energy levels, raise blood pressure and speed up heart rate. A stimulant for conversation and collaboration
- Pale Blue: Focused and productive
- Brown: The same effect that blues and greens do (tranquility, and peace). Evokes feelings of security, credibility and reassurance.
3) Plants, lots of plants
Having plants around the office not only improves the appearance of our work space, but it’s also proven to be beneficial to health and productivity. In our previous article we detailed the benefits of plants in the office. One thing’s for sure, since introducing plants to our office, it’s added colour and interest and looks nice too!
4) Encourage healthy lunches
Most businesses are within easy reach of a supermarket, sandwich shop or fast food outlet, great for choice, not so good for health. If you and your colleagues dine every day on nice big baguettes, burgers or bags of crisps and a chocolate bars then it’s advisable to swap this for a tasty salad! Eating healthier is not only good for the waistline, it’s also great for the immune system, skin, concentration, memory, creativity, mood and many other benefits that junk or convenience foods don’t provide.
You can encourage the change to these foods in a number of ways, one easy way is to lead by example and start to change your own diet. When people ask why your eating different lunches you can explain, and encourage them to follow suit.
5) Take a stand for good seating
Investing in ergonomic chairs, and encouraging good posture will benefit your employees comfort and health. Sitting correctly might sound like something that’s easy and natural, but there are a number of variables that you may not have considered regarding your position at your desk and the everyday tools you use.
It’s also advisable to stand for part of your day, there are a number of reasons for this, which are explained in our previous article, Why You Should Spend Your Working Day Standing. There are even articles online promoting the use of treadmill desks, so that you can continually exercise while working at your PC, but that may be taking things a bit too far to start with.
6) Pop a window or 2
Opening a window and allowing fresh, natural air into the office not only minimises the requirement for air conditioning, but also creates a breeze and moves the air around. Some of the benefits of fresh air are:
- Great for digestion.
- Improves your blood pressure and heart rate.
- Makes you happier.
- Strengthens your immune system.
- Cleans your lungs.
- Gives you more energy and a sharper mind.
7) Get the cans out
Listening to music is great for motivation and inspiration too, it can also be used to help concentration and avoid distraction. Music helps you be more productive by making tasks that you may not necessarily want to do, more pleasurable. Classic or instrumental music is particularly good for concentration and productivity.
8) Create the right mood with lighting
When it comes to light, the more natural the better. If you haven’t got enough natural light, during winter months for example, then you have to use artificial lighting. Avoid direct lighting or having an office that is too brightly lit. Natural light bulbs are better than neon strips and should positioned behind you if working at a computer most of the time.
Position lighting so as not to refelct off of other objects as this can cause eye strain and headaches.
9) Get fruity
Place a bowl of fruit in the office and invite everyone to help themselves, this will reduce snacking on unhealthy foods and count as part of your ‘5 a day’. Others will soon take the initiative and start to contribute to the communal fruit bowl! Some particularly good fruits to make available are:
- Apples – important for colon health and controlling blood sugar levels, good source of vitamin C and antiallergy properties
- Cherries – have the highest concentration of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block enzymes associated with inflammation
- Grapes – loaded with vitamins A, C, and B6, and folate, in addition to several essential minerals
- Blackberries – along with blueberries, bilberries, and raspberries, are rich in the antioxidant lutein, which helps promote eye health
- Grapefruit – a great appetite suppressant, contains pectin, a soluble fiber that’s been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis
- Lemons – supports liver and gall bladder function, it’s scent has been shown to mitigate fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness, and can increase concentration and alertness
- Papaya – ripe papaya has only 60 calories, yet packs a whopping 144 percent of the DV of vitamin C
10) Keep things clean
Ensuring that the office is as clean as possible is an effective way of reducing allergies and passing on germs. Provide hand sanitisers in areas where hands may become dirty or germs may gather. According to a BBC article “Just 20 minutes of sustained exercise a week – from cleaning to jogging – can impact upon depression, the British Journal of Sports Medicine study found.
The more strenuous and frequent the activity, the greater the effect.“