The majority of office workers spend eight hours a day in the workplace. To many, the office becomes some kind of second home, although not always a pleasant one. For many years business owners and managers were reluctant to making their office space too comfortable, as they believed that doing so could have negative effects on productivity. However research has shown that an overall change of environment in many offices can improve staff moral and productivity.

The key benefits to making the office environment comfortable

The idea that comfortable offices are equivalent to unproductive staff has proven to be a misconception. In fact, several studies show that a carefully designed office can make workers feel rested, more focussed, and active. This in turn results in increased productivity and an overall positive working environment. The Talk Business magazine recently reported on a survey in which 75 per cent of the employees interviewed affirmed that things like reduced working space, noise, or fluorescent lighting limited their working capacity.

But it is not all about your employees. A well designed office that is more than just desks and chairs thrown together can cause a positive impression on visitors and potential customers. After all, they may think, a company that puts so much effort into their facilities and the well-being of staff is surely worth doing business with.

There are a number of advantages to creating a comfortable office environment and the following suggestions have proven effective:

Office space

For decades, offices consisted of row after row of individual workstations or cubicles. It has been proven that spending 8 hours a day in such a reduced space can have negative physical and psychological effects, so over the years, open space offices have become a popular option for companies in virtually every sector. However, if you cannot make any changes to the layout of your office space, perhaps you could consider changing the cubicle walls and replacing them with movable partitions or glass walls.

Lighting

Fluorescent lighting was once standard in most offices, but research has shown that whenever possible, natural light should be used as the primary method of lighting. Prolonged exposure to artificial light can cause headaches, fatigue, and even eyesight problems. Ideally, an office should be fitted with large windows and with flexible lighting systems that allow intensity control. An alternative is to use a combination of different fluorescent light types, including those that give off "daylight" and "warm" light.

Temperature

Recent studies have shown that the ideal office temperature should range between 20° and 23° Celsius. Inadequate temperature control not only diminishes productivity, but also results in unnecessarily large fuel bills. In the UK, the 1992 Workplace Regulations established different minimum temperatures depending on the type of workspace. If in doubt, refer to these guidelines.

Office furniture

For best results, basic office furniture (chairs, desks, and computers) should be ergonomic. Think about adjustable chairs with excellent back support, keyboard wrist pads, anti-glare screen protectors, foot rests, and wireless headsets.

Interior Decoration

Pay attention to the colours that predominate in your office. Cool colours such as light blue or green encourage concentration, but these might not be the most appropriate in offices where the main business is creativity. And why not include some relaxing touches, like flowers, plants, aquariums, or even fountains?

Lastly, find out your employees opinion and be ready to welcome their input on which changes could be made in order to create a more comfortable office.