By Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Extra cash in the year-end budget is always a welcome sight. But how to spend it fairly? One way to make sure everyone benefits is by making a few changes to your furniture, decor and office design. A few tweaks to your workplace won't cost much, but they can improve the space for everyone who works there.
Here are four ways to put your unused budget money to work:
1. Focus on Furniture that Helps Your Health
High-top tables in common areas can encourage stand-up meetings, while making individual standing desks available can encourage more people to get out of their seats during the day. Sitting all day has been linked to a variety of health problems, and stretching your legs can energize and motivate you and your coworkers. Some workers may only use these items part-time, but even standing occasionally throughout the day can have a big impact on health.
2. Provide Opportunities to Disconnect
Turn a little-used room in the office into a "wellness room" for employees to unplug. These rooms serve a variety of purposes: as a lounge for quiet relaxation, a lactation room for new mothers, or a meditation space, for example. As one CNN editor noted, work may be the perfect place for employees to establish a consistent meditation practice.
A few comfortable chairs, large foam cushions, soft lighting and a few subtle wall decorations are all it takes to create a wellness room. You might also add a docking station that allows employees to plug in the audio of their choice, or a few potted plants. If employees take a break for just a few minutes, they can improve their overall well-being, mood and energy level throughout the workday.
3. Improve the Office Vibe with Appropriate Lighting
You may not be able to control the amount of natural light in the office, but you can provide employees with lighting options that reduce eye strain and minimize the potential for headaches. Task lights that clip onto a computer monitor can conserve space in small workstations, while ambient lighting placed behind a computer screen can help ease the glare produced by electronic screens. Turning off half the overhead fluorescent lights and supplementing with lamplight may also provide a better lighting balance.
4. Create a Mini-Library for Deep Focus
A plush rug, some comfortable seating, and a few bookshelves stocked with interesting, inspiring books can create a library-like environment that helps inspire concentrated thinking. Being in a library-style setting can encourage intense study — something hard to come by in busy office places. Staff members who need a change of scene can come here to immerse themselves in their projects.
Office design has an important impact on the culture of the workplace. Use your leftover budget before the year ends to invest in a few clever additions that ensure staff feel inspired to start the new year off on the right foot.