Maxwell Stephens

Small things make a big difference:
Easy ways to improve the working environment

You’re sat in a spine warping office chair from the 60’s, staring at the blank wall in front of your desk trying not to succumb to the fluorescent lighting induced migraine that’s eager to unleash itself. This kind of working environment is not conducive to productivity or job satisfaction, and can me a major contributing factor in the success or failure of a business. Although a full office revamp can be costly and time consuming, there are a range of minor changes which can be implemented to help improve the workplace and ultimately your business:

Get Nice and Comfy.​

It may seem like a trivial matter, but having a correctly fitted and comfortable work space is vital for productivity. It you’ve ever spent 8 hours in an uncomfortable chair you will know just how distracting it can be. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that employees’ immediate work space provide the level of comfort and support needed for them to do their work unhindered by annoying back pain.


Consider these quick ergonomic checks and improvements:


–  Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.

–  Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.

–  A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

Here are some quick tips to improve comfort in the working environment. 

–  Provide fully adjustable chairs

–  Provide cushions and back supports for employees if they want them.

–  Height adjustable computer stands can be a great help and allow people to alternate between sitting down and standing up

Let There Be Light​

There is a huge amount of research out there highlighting the impact that proper lighting can have on the work environment and employees. Lighting plays a vital role in workers’ performance and attitude. Research suggests that exposure to natural light improves mood and energy, greatly impacting focus and productivity, but nearly half of office workers claim there is little to no natural light in their office.


If it’s not possible to incorporate natural lighting through windows, there are other options. Blue-enriched light bulbs may reduce fatigue and increase happiness and work performance. Use this type of lighting in brainstorming rooms. In meeting or break rooms, use warmer tones to promote calmness and relaxation. In conference rooms, use middle tones that welcome workers while keeping them alert.

Chill Out​

Open office layouts are a necessity in many cases, but you should consider providing a few areas where employees can retreat if they need quiet or solitude to concentrate on a difficult project. It can cut down on the stress and interruptions, which improves mood and productivity. 

You might also think about providing nap rooms, for which Google (among others) is famous. Studies show that a 20 or 30 minute power nap is better than a cup of coffee to boost energy for those people who regularly work long hours, engage in intensive, complicated work, or travel to out-of-town bureaus.

Open Up​

It is common sense that employees prefer a job where they feel listened to and appreciated. A big part of this is to ensure that there is transparency between managers and workers, as conflicts can issues can often arise from employees feeling that they are being ‘left out of the loop’ with what is happening in their organisation. The layout and design of an office can go a long way to achieving this culture of openness and honesty. 


Your “open-door” policy should be taken literally as keeping the door open has been proven to encourage friendly communication, and suggests you are always available for questions, comments, and concerns. Avoid segregated cubicles or offices, open up the space and establish communal work areas which encourage interaction and team work throughout the office.

Soothe the Senses​

Our sensory systems have a huge effect on our emotions and how we react to our environment, therefore it’s crucial to carefully consider the effect that sensory factors can have on worker productivity.


Colours can have a huge impact on our moods and brain function in day-to-day life. It has been proven over and over again that certain colours can induce very specific emotional responses, so choosing the right colours for the work space has the ability to affect employee productivity. An example would be that pastel blue colours have been shown to illicit productivity and enhanced brain function. 

Similarly to the colour of work spaces, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and therefore productivity. Adding pleasant scents to the office environment can have a considerable impact and significant scientific research has found that specific scents can have specific effects, such as:


–  Pine – Increases alertness

–  Cinnamon – Improves focus

–  Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day

–  Peppermint – Lifts your mood

–  Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits


If you thought sights and smells could diminish you work output, that’s nothing compared to distracting noises. The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture, but make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.


You could try providing noise cancelling headphones or playing concentration boosting music quietly throughout the office.  Also if you have the space try and provide silent areas for individuals to work in without the office noise pollution.

More Posts...