COVID-19 changed everything we thought we knew about the traditional office. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, more people than ever before are choosing hybrid or fully remote working arrangements. In fact, the number of people working from home has more than tripled to around 6.3 million people in the last couple of years.
It’s no doubt that working from home arrangements are looking more favourable to employees than the traditional office set up. 51% of staff believe they are more productive when working from home. Many people are now wondering, can offices become positive and productive enough to draw employees back after the pandemic? The answer may be in whether or not the office provides a stimulating environment for staff.
What makes a good working environment?
During Covid-19, another phenomenon was sweeping the UK workforce at an unprecedented rate: the great resignation. Proposed by Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M university, the great resignation describes the trend in which employees voluntarily left their jobs en masse around the time of the pandemic.
However, this trend isn’t over, people are quitting at a record pace. In fact, around 40% of people are considering leaving their jobs in the next three to six months. With competition for talent remaining as fierce as ever, many businesses are changing the office environment to accommodate for the growing demands of the UK workforce.
How to create a more positive working environment
Creating a mentally stimulating and positive working environment incorporates a number of different considerations. Employees not only need to feel heard, validated and appreciated at their workplace, but the environment where they work needs to become just as, if not more, appealing than their homes. Here are a few of the ways you can create the ideal work environment for your staff.
Support mental health
According to the mental health charity, Mind, around 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some sort of mental health problem each year. A staggering 14.7% of people will experience mental health problems in the workplace.
Mental health matters, and putting proper procedures in place to help people who are dealing with mental health issues will help people feel more supported when they need it the most.
Actively supporting and managing the mental wellbeing of your staff members will also lead to a healthier and more productive work environment.
Consider a more flexible approach
A recent survey conducted by ADP, found that 60% of the UK workforce would like more flexibility surrounding when they work. The same survey also found that a staggering 45% of people would accept lower pay if it meant they could have an improved work-life balance.
There’s no doubt that flexible working is what staff members want. It’s become so important, in fact, that many HR experts are calling for time of death on the traditional 9 to 5.
Flexible working arrangements, it seems, maybe the answer to retaining more staff and attracting a larger pool of talent. It can also reduce absenteeism and increase productivity and motivation. Granting your staff with trust and consideration can lead to a sense of loyalty and a desire to go the extra mile.
Create a collaborative space
Working from home can have a lot of benefits for employees, but it can also be isolating. Aside from the occasional zoom meeting or email, your team might not communicate at all. If there’s one thing working from home can’t provide, it’s human connections.
Collaborative spaces in the office are incredibly important. Many offices are choosing to create spaces that are used for work as well as social activities.
A collaborative space will increase communication between isolated employees, garner more effective meetings and generate ideas. It can even increase staff morale and create a positive team culture.
Create the ideal office environment
You may have to say goodbye to the office as we once knew it. The pandemic allowed staff members to reimagine how they might spend their working hours, and it’s hard to go backwards once you’ve experienced corporate freedom.
This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone has to feel isolated from their colleagues. It may just signify that it’s now necessary to rethink the workplace and create an environment that will make people want to come to work.
Spaces that are designed specifically to facilitate interactions that can’t happen remotely, for instance, may need to be created to accommodate collaborative work rather than individual work.
The way an office looks will also need to change. Private offices and cubicles will need to be abandoned in favour of creative spaces that feel as comfortable and inspiring.
In a post-pandemic world, fitness, health, wellbeing and hygiene are now more important than ever before. Many businesses are considering applying health and wellness benefits to the office environment to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviours.
Bring nature into the workplace
During the pandemic, many people learned to appreciate nature more than ever before. In May 2020, 36% of people said they were spending more time outside than ever before. This rose to 46% by July of the same year.
The physical and mental benefits of nature have been well established. Research into ecotherapy, which is a type of formal treatment involving spending time in nature, has shown that it can help us feel more emotionally, psychologically and physically healthy.
Unfortunately, workplace offices are usually set in urban areas such as cities or industrial estates. Inside, workspaces can be sporadically imagined, with desks set far apart and darkened areas with little natural light. However, providing your staff with the wellness benefits they deserve could be as easy as including digital windows and sky ceilings in your office design.
Digital windows replicate natural views to transform any environment into an uplifting, inspiring and tranquil space that offer real, clinically proven therapeutic benefits to your staff.
Find out more about Sky Inside industry leading products and get the commercial solutions you need to bring your employees together time and again.