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Study Guide: Creating the right work environment


Introduction

The right work environment can be the difference between being productive and motivated against being lazy and inefficient. Through placing an emphasis on creating a healthy workplace environment, you can create long term gains for any business/individual through boosted productivity and reduced absenteeism and worker protests. After all, happy employees are loyal employees and loyal employees can be revolutionary to any company.

For those with a stronger work ethic who often pull over 40 hour work weeks, you need to place an even stronger emphasis on your work environment. Spending so much time in a messy, cluttered and negative environment can have a real effect on your mental health. In fact, a Robert Half International study found that a work environment was the single most important factor in employee happiness.

3 Benefits to a strong work environment for yourself

Benefit #1: The right work environment can improve your mood

A literature review from the National Research Council of Canada explored how much a work environment can contribute to the person's mood and well-being. They concluded that the average person spends over a third of the time they're awake at their working environment and it therefore is one of the biggest determinants of someone's mood. 

Trying to complete your work whilst you're in a negative headspace can make your tasks 10 times harder. Fortunately, creating the right work environment can greatly enhance your mood. From allowing natural sunlight into your workspace to minimising any stress inducing factors, these small details can encourage you to complete your best work. Similarly, studies have found that an environment without any clutter can greatly increase your focus and motivation levels when working.

Benefit #2: Higher Productivity

Studies have found that a healthy work environment can increase productivity in a number of way. Firstly, studies from Warwick University's research team have found that those who are comfortable and satisfied in their surroundings benefit from a sharp increase in productivity. Similarly, those surrounded by stress and negativity suffer from a sharp decrease in their productivity and focus levels. 

Additionally, a recent study from the University of Texas found that surrounding yourself with certain colours can lead to an increase or decrease in your productivity and focus levels. For example, they found that low-wavelength colours such as green or blue lead to greater efficiency and focus.

Benefit #3: Increased Creativity

Just as the right working environment can increase productivity, it also can boost your creativity and ability to generate new ideas. Different colours, sounds, arrangement and lighting all have a major impact on how creative you are.

For example, the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that the amount of natural light you are receiving in your work environment can determine how creative you are. This is because natural light increases dopamine levels, decreases cortisol levels and can lower anxiety; this results in an environment where you can be comfortable enough to start thinking outside the box. Additionally, the Journal of Consumer Research found that moderate to low levels of ambient noise can increase your performance on tasks involving creativity. 

Whilst its important to ensure your work environment stimulates creativity, it's equally as important to ensure your work environment doesn't kill creativity. Example's of factors that decrease levels of creativity are: being watched, expecting a reward for your work and expecting your work to be evaluated by others. If you can do your best to limit these factors you could be on your way to being at your creative best.

    3 Benefits to a Strong Work Environment for a business 

    Benefit #1: Happy employee's cost less

    The school of Harvard Business explored the relationship between the healthcare costs for certain businesses and the levels of happiness of their employee's. The study found that healthcare costs are almost 50% higher for companies that are placing higher pressure on their employee's. This is due to almost 80% of all office injuries being attributed to stress.

    Through placing an emphasis on creating the right work environment, you can minimise the levels of stress for your employee's. This can be done through creating an environment where employee's are surrounded by positivity, the right people around them and areas where they can escape from constantly thinking about their work. 

    Benefit #2: A supportive environment is more likely to breed growth for the individuals and business

    Many studies have shown that a workplace where employee's are happy result in increased employee productivity. For example, the University of Warwick found that a happy workplace results in an increase of productivity by 12% whilst an unhappy workforce experience a decline in productivity by 10%.

    A positive environment where employee's can provide support to one another, inspire each other and act in a loyal manner can lead to better collaboration, more self motivation and productivity.  Organisations with positive work cultures like these outperform their weaker counterparts financially, in fact Dale Carnegie's 'Transforming Attitudes and Actions: How Senior Leaders Create Successful Workplace Cultures' reports that 92% of business leaders believe financial performance and a positive workplace are interlinked. 

    Benefit 3: Employee Retention

    The American Institute of Stress found that a negative workplace results in a nearly 50% of voluntary turnover; this is not only detrimental to individuals but it also has negative consequences for a business. This is because it costs an estimated 20% of that employee's salary to be replaced. Not to mention the reduction in productivity, healthcare costs and absenteeism all increase the business' expenditure. 

    On the flip side, studies from "Culture IQ" found that a strong work environment keeps employee's engaged in their work and loyal to the business. Due to satisfied employee's being loyal to their business, this often means they will go the extra mile for the benefit of the business; differences like this can be the difference between good and great business performance. 

    How to create the right work environment

    Tip #1: Pick one work space 

    Try to make dedicate one area to work in and make a habit of only using that area to study/work. By doing this, your are conditioning your brain to enter "study mode" when you enter this space; this leads to you being extra focused and motivated. If you are constantly moving and relocating, you are going to have to overcome a lot of extra distractions and get accustomed to each environment before being 100% focused. 

    Elizabeth Malson, president of the Amslee Institute (a prominent force in productivity research) states “When jumping from task to task, our bodies and minds have a hard time adjusting. To facilitate faster transitions to get the most out of your time, create a routine that helps you concentrate.

    Tip #2: Get comfortable

    A comfortable working environment is essential to creating a positive atmosphere which as previously mentioned is shown to improve productivity and focus levels. According to Fellowes Research, they found that one in four workers believe that their levels of discomfort at work prevent them from being as productive as possible; further illustrating the importance of comfortability, the same study found that problems with comfort in the working environment can lead to an increase in absenteeism and health issues.

    A large part of comfortability is down to personal preference therefore it may take some trial and error to find what works for you. It's also important to consider that you will be spending large amounts of time in that space therefore you may want to avoid putting yourself in positions where you may encourage neck, back or eye strain . 

    Tip #3: Create natural light 

    The Vitamin D that comes with having natural light shining upon your workspace is well documented to have beneficial effects on your mood and overall happiness levels. Furthermore, Vitamin D has also been found to prevent bone loss, weight gain and risk of various diseases such as heart diseases. Additionally, a 2014 study from PubMed found that the more natural light employee's received, the better sleep they experienced and the more productive they were.

    Additionally, a report found an 84% decrease in eyestrains, headaches and blurred vision for those who work in office environments surrounded by natural light. These sorts of symptoms occur from extended periods of using your computer or device and often result in a decrease in productivity. Similarly, research conducted by Eco Business found that employee's who had sufficient daylight generally benefited from an increase in productivity by as much as 40%.

    Tip #4: The right scents and fresh air

    It is widely recognised that specific scents can induce certain memories and moods. By surrounding yourself with the right scents and moods, you can encourage productivity, improve motivation and increase general happiness. Even cheap scents from air fresheners can make your work environment more attractive and aesthetically pleasing. 

    Similarly, plants and fresh air have been shown to improve productivity and happiness for those in an office setting. A study from Texas' University research team found that having plant's and flowers in a workspace can improve workplace productivity by up to 10%. The study found that the participants' problem-solving skills and mental arithmetic speed improved when in the presence of fresh air, plants and flowers. 

    Tip #5: Create time or space for excerice

    It is now widely recognised within the scientific community, that exercise can improve health, mood and productivity. By creating a place and time where you can exercise, you can indirectly improve your motivation and productivity levels leading to you producing better work. Furthermore, exercise has been shown to improve your energy levels and battle fatigue.

    Many people say they have no time for exercise but by creating time for exercise you can actually stay focused for longer on your work and put in more hours if needed. A good way to stay committed to the exercise regime is to create a specific place to workout and make your workouts enjoyable. By doing this you are more likely to stay consistent to your workout schedule

     

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