When it comes to the set-up of home offices, 62% of remote employees aren’t happy – and wish their employers would help out.
But what does the ideal home office actually look like? We did some research, and found the following play a big part in keeping employees happy and productivity high:
- Natural light
Having access to natural light, for example by placing your desk in front of a window, makes a bigger difference than you might think. A study that looked at the health and productivity benefits of natural lighting found that a naturally lit environment triggers responses in our endocrine system, which manages sleep, moods and our immune system.
As a result, employees report improved mental clarity, better vision and fewer headaches and migraines – all of which affect productivity. But if you live in an area with reduced daylight hours, obviously don’t strain your eyes when it gets dark – a simple desk lamp will do the trick for when some extra brightness is needed.
- Proper desk(top) height
For most office workers, sitting at a desk all day can have a detrimental effect on posture and, eventually, lead to back pain. In many cases, this can be avoided by having your desk setup at the right height. For example, if you use a second screen, make sure your laptop next to it is at the same height.
Implementing a few extras – such as a laptop stand and a cushion to help support the lower back, should do the trick. And if they don’t, trying out a standing desk extender can be an option as well.
- An ergonomic office chair
A study found we spend 7,709 days of our lives sitting down. As you can imagine, how you sit matters. The office chair you day in and day out will make a big difference to your comfort (and back pain) levels as well, so ensuring employees have an ergonomic chair will help tremendously.
Employees who are more satisfied with the physical environment are more likely to produce better work outcomes”
How the physical office space affects productivity
While the physical benefits of having a good workspace setup are clear, there are also mental benefits that employers will find interesting. You see, if the home office looks less like ‘home’ and more like an ‘office’ space, it subconsciously affects the productivity levels of your staff.
As this research paper explains, the characteristics of an office environment have been scientifically proven to affect the concentration and productivity levels of employees. Employees who are more satisfied with the physical environment are more likely to produce better work outcomes, making it a key indicator of employee performance. As such, the research paper also notes that higher levels of satisfaction improve morale and reduce voluntary turnover.
So what can you as an employer do to make sure your remote employees are happy with their home office setup? Offer to provide things like a second screen, a laptop stand, an office chair or whatever else might be needed.
If you already have most of these items at a physical office location and employees can collect them, great. If not, the easiest may be to provide a set budget for each employee so they can order their own equipment.
And if you really want to splurge, you could look into the option of getting an ergonomist to ensure everyone’s home office setup provides the best levels of efficiency, comfort and health and safety. Of course, this depends on the size of your team, but you’ll be surprised at the long-term productivity (and employee happiness) effects a proper ergonomic home office setup can have.
A series on how to work from home productively
As more and more companies move to a remote office scheme to accommodate workers in the current pandemic, we’re keen to understand how working from home affects small businesses and employers.
In our recent series, we looked at what the statistics say about remote employees and productivity and analysed the most important pros and cons for both businesses and staff. We also dug a little deeper into some of the main issues of a remote working arrangement and listed out handy tools and actions to help companies overcome them.