What matters most to managers?
High productivity? Efficiency and organization?
How about office carpeting?
According to current scientific research, it should. Employee satisfaction has a major impact on motivation, efficiency, and the function of an organization of a whole, according to organizational psychologists who study what exactly makes for an enjoyable workplace. While there is consensus that happiness motivates employees, there’s no magic formula for what makes a job satisfying. Everyone has his or her own preferences for a job environment. Happiness is a very complicated area of study, predictably enough.
What is possible to track and prove, however, is the extent to which employees are influenced by their surroundings. Job satisfaction research can be traced to the early 20th century. Factories that used assembly lines found that tired workers in uncomfortable settings made more mistakes. This was bad for employees and bad for business, so managers began seeking ways to boost employee mood and morale.
Fast forward to a century later: workplaces have changed dramatically, and the results of the most current research are reaffirming that the physical space in which employees work is a major factor on happiness. This is good news for managers who wish to effect major change easily and with minimal hassle.
To make your office a happier space, try:
1. Lowering office noise. Loud noises raise the level of epinephrine (a hormone involved in our body’s fight-or-flight response) in the body, even if it goes consciously unnoticed. Too-chatty coworkers, keyboard clatter, copy machines, phones, outside disruptions and other problematic sounds also put employees on edge. Smart strategies to cut noise include carpeting, lining walls with sound-absorbent material, soaking up street sounds with thick curtains, and white noise machines. Headphones make for the quickest fix.
2. Keeping the temperature between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius appears to be the best bet. A chilly office makes employees perceive the workspace as less friendly. Some greenery might make employees more comfortable, too.
3. Finding the best seats. Encourage the use of adjustable chairs and desks, which shift weight distribution and keep joints from getting overloaded. Employees who stand at a desk for a cumulative two hours throughout the workday also report feeling more energetic and less depleted by office closing time.
4. Improving interpersonal space. Office setups that encourage face-to-face communication (like open-plan bull pen types) boost employee satisfaction. Cubicles with high walls have the worst influence on employee’s smile rates, since they increase isolation. Organizational psychologist Jennifer Bunk advocates for more small talk and greetings. A non-virtual “hello” is great for improving morale.