If you have read any recent news or surveys about the modern workplace, you may be left with the impression that it has become something of a death trap.Now, this is pretty misleading because statistically there are far more dangerous workplaces than your typical office space. Workers in the fishery, agriculture, forestry and construction professions, where you are not fully in control of the elements you face daily, stand a far greater chance of been hurt on the job.
Nowadays, most of us are not involved in those hazardous lines of work, instead we find ourselves sitting in comfortable chairs in air conditioned rooms and unlikely to be facing any life threatening situations. However, the modern office does have it own set of health dangers and annoyances that you should be aware of when it comes to good office design:
Read on to discover 4 potentially harmful work place hazards:
As more offices move towards a more open plan concept, we have witnessed a shift that has seen desk partitions, cubicles, and private office spaces disappear in a bid to foster more workplace collaboration.
While there are benefits that stem from providing more breakout spaces and other small group meeting places, including helping to connect employees and increase productivity, particularly in team environments, there are also a variety of downsides that come from not been able to control the sounds that encroach on our workspaces. Noise is one of the employee's main complaints and research shows that constant office chatter can significantly affect our productivity and increase stress levels.
In a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, 40 female clerical workers were subjected to three hours of “low-intensity noise” that was designed to stimulate the sounds found in a typical open office setting while another group enjoyed 3 hours of quiet. Afterwards, both groups were asked to solve a puzzle, unbeknownst to them; the puzzle could not be solved. The workers who have been treated to the quiet work setting kept on plugging away at the puzzles, while the subjects who had experienced the noisy conditions gave up after few attempts.
It seems many of us are not able to successfully block out noise and distractions. The UK firm CBS Designs notes on its website that “since people have the bandwidth to process 1.6 conversations at any one time their brain processes information surrounding them and, as a result, productivity and concentration may drop by as much as 71%.”
It is no wonder there has been a renewed interest in acoustic workplace materials that ranges from acoustic ceiling kits, screens, acoustic furniture, piped music and white noise makers.
It is estimated that a typical office worker and their computer equipment generates some 1500 watts of energy per hour, which is the equivalent of a fan heater, so imagine if you have 50 workers in your office space. The resulting environment can lead to many health
related issues including dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, fainting and heat cramps due to a loss of salt and water in the body.
Hot, dry air can also increase the risk of throat and eye infections and breathing problems such as asthma and rhinitis.One way to combat poor air quality in the workplace is by introducing more plants and greenery that has been shown to not only cool the space they occupy but also increase the air quality, decrease employee stress and enhance productivity.
There has been a lot written recently about the harmful effects of sitting at an office desk for 8 hours a day. Studies have shown a solid link between our sedentary office behaviour and heart disease and obesity. The human body is biologically designed to be mobile, not sedentary.
A typical person now sits for more than 9 hours per day, more than we spend sleeping. Scientists have shown that sitting more than 6 hours a day can negatively affect our health and is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. Even if you regularly partake in exercise, new studies show sitting for long periods of time will take years off your life.
There are some ways companies can encourage their employees to get more exercise during their workday:
Make Stairs Attractive
If the office space has stairs between levels, you can encourage your workers to use them as an alternative to elevators and boost activity levels. Ensure staircases are well lit, safe and look aesthetically appealing.
Centralize Office Printers
Encourage your employees to get up from their desks to use printers and copiers. Placing equipment in a central location away from individual work areas allows your employees the opportunity for movement during the day.
Create Breakout Spaces
The days of employees been chained to one desk all day are over. Many companies have already taken note of the health benefits that come from installing collaboration spaces that encourage employees to move around the office.
Provide a variety of workspaces in these spaces including stand up laptop bars, standing desks and even treadmill desks, all of these options will allow workers to switch body positions and have more control over their work environment.Other ways to encourage more movement in your office include making it dog-friendly and incorporating green spaces and patios around the exterior.4. Create Break-Out Spaces To Break Down Barriers And Inspire
Access to natural light is one of the most overlooked aspects of good office design, but it should be one of your major considerations in office design and layout because it has a major impact on employee productivity and mood.
"American workers spend approximately 90% of their waking hours indoors, many of them at computer workstations far away from the closest window," states Edin Rudic, creative director at MKDA, a corporate interior design firm with offices in New York City and Stamford, CT. "Because limited exposure to natural light can negatively impact mood and productivity," both employees and their employers would greatly benefit from more exposure to sunlight.
Studies have shown that office workers who have more access to daylight work better, sleep better and are far more productive that workers who have to sit under a cloud of fluorescent lights every day.
"Natural light offers a much wider color spectrum making it easier for us to see details and perform basic tasks," Rudic says. "There are numerous studies showing productivity improvements with natural light, particularly in manufacturing environments. Also, our eyes are designed to work with the changing light levels of sunlight, in contrast with the harsh continuous artificial lighting in offices. Natural light will reduce eye fatigue and complaints about headaches."
Rudic has advice on how you can get more light in your workplace: "To improve the amount of natural sunlight within an office, create an open environment by tearing down interior walls, using glass walls for private offices and benching desks instead of claustrophobic workstations.
"These techniques will not only enhance the aesthetic of your design but will also allow natural sunlight to permeate the core of the office, which will have a huge impact on mood and productivity throughout your workspace."
Focusing on good office build and design can help reduce or eliminate many of these office hazards and in turn, will make employees more productive and happier.
Every company is trying to attract and retain good talent, and one of those key items is a workplace they like, that allows them some control and is easy to operate in.
TruSpace offers free workplace consultations that will show you how you can maximize your offices potential - give us a call today at 855.801.1156 or fill in our contact form and we will get right back to you.