Stress, depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for most sick days taken in 2017/18.
With a supportive workplace culture, work-related stress can be reduced before it results in the kind of burn-out that requires time off. Burn-out happens when an individual feels they can no longer cope with the stress they're under.
It can build up slowly over time, or it can happen suddenly when several stressful events or situations coincide to become unmanageable. Different people handle stress differently, and the symptoms manifest in a variety of ways.
Work-related stress is far more common than it should be, and there's plenty employers can be doing to lower this risk, including the following:
1. Offer agile working
Most of us enjoy having the freedom to choose. Choice gives us flexibility. It makes us resilient and adaptable. Life isn't rigid, so why should work be? The traditional 9-5, 5-day working week is looking increasingly dated in a world where we can easily access documents and systems almost anywhere, any time through the Internet and our portable devices.
More and more organisations are adopting agile working practices. The office remains a good base for focused work and collaboration, but staff should be given the tools to hot-desk, work on the go and work from home whenever it's suitable.
It's time to ask how much stress is caused by the daily grind. Not the work itself, but the cyclical routine of having to be somewhere between specific times every day, regardless of what life throws at us. Humans require stimulation to thrive.
Why shouldn't workplaces reflect this?
2. Provide comfy ergonomic equipment
Ergonomic chairs and other office equipment shouldn't just be bought in for employees who complain of bad backs. Ergonomic equipment is not a cure: it's supposed to prevent musculoskeletal problems from even getting the chance to start.
Adjustable chairs and thoughtfully designed computer accessories are comfortable to use. It feels better to work with a workstation that's been set up according to DSE principles. With good posture you breathe better, you think clearer, you don't go home at the end of the day feeling achy and fatigued.
The emotional impact of being in pain is huge, and if that pain is being caused by office equipment then that equipment needs upgrading.
3. Encourage microbreaks
Taking a regular short breather from whatever you're doing is good for your stress levels. The problem in many workplaces is the fear of looking like a slacker. If you keep getting up to stride around the office every half and hour, won't people think you're avoiding work?
For employees to feel comfortable taking microbreaks, managers need get on board and lead by example. Make it clear that getting up is not just okay but encouraged.
4. Health, safety and wellbeing training
By law, staff should be trained to recognise health and safety risks in the workplace so that they can protect themselves. Stress awareness training is not compulsory, but it is a good way of helping staff identify signs of work-related stress in themselves and others.
5. Sit-stand desks and active working
Physical activity can have a profoundly positive impact on mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, computer work is by nature sedentary and most offices fail to encourage suitable levels of activity. Active working is the principle of incorporating more physical activity into day-to-day office life. Here are some ways to achieve it:
6. Employee benefits
When it comes to staff perks, it's important to consider what will have the biggest impact. What do staff value most? Perks that benefit wellbeing include duvet days (where staff can take an impromptu day off if they feel they need it), sabbaticals, paid volunteer days, and even bring-your-dog-to-work day.
7. Wellbeing committee
Ask for volunteers to lead a wellbeing committee. They can organise awareness events, training days, resources and activities geared up to help staff manage their stress levels.
If you have a business and would like to make savings on your bottom line, then cutting your energy usage is one of the best ways to do so.
Here we look at 4 easy ways your business can reduce energy consumption and ultimately save money, without transforming your whole interior.
1. Using Energy-Saving Lighting
Artificial lighting is essential in most offices. Regardless of how many big windows you have or how much natural light floods in, during the winter months there are short, dark days when you will need extra lighting. Unfortunately, lighting an office is expensive.
The good news is that you can minimise the cost spent on lighting with the use of energy-saving lights. LED light bulbs are known to be more energy-efficient than standard incandescent lighting.
LEDs do have a reputation for being initially expensive, but prices have dropped drastically in recent years, so you really don’t have to invest a fortune to be able to change over.
Plus, the amount you’ll save on your energy costs each year will more than make up for the price of purchase.
2. Controlling the AC and Heating
It’s hard to get the temperature right in an office space. In the winter it’s too cold and damp and in the summer it’s too hot and humid.
During the colder months, you will most probably need the central heating on during the day, but ensure you set a timer so that it switches off when the office is closed. Leaving it on will waste unnecessary energy and money by the bucket loads.
Similarly, during the summer months, cooling things down can be just as costly. It’s hard to cater to all employees’ preferences but create a happy medium and set the temperature at around 21 degrees Celsius.
Just remember, reducing the AC by as little as 1 degree Celsius could reduce your annual energy bill by up to 8%
3. Scrapping the use of Paper
Printers and photocopiers don’t just use a lot of energy; they also use a lot of paper. With the number of online admin apps and tools on the market, there really is no need to print out anything at all. Everything can now be done digitally.
Why not implement a no paper rule in your office? Not only will you save energy, but you will also save money and create a tidier and more clutter-free office environment.
Save any documents you want to share with other team members to a shared drive instead of printing out a copy.
This also means no one will have to re-print any documents if they go missing either.
4. Turn Off at Night
Most offices operate during a set period of time, most commonly 9 am to 5.30pm. Outside of these hours, energy consumption should be kept to a minimum.
Make an office rule so that employees switch off their laptops or take them home with them every night. Leaving laptops on standby or in sleep mode still uses up power, which is not needed.
Also ensure that whoever is last in the office switches off all other appliances like vending machines, coffee machines, printers, TVs and presentation equipment.
This is especially important at the weekend when the office is empty for 48 hours.
Here we look at why glass is becoming such a popular choice for many commercial interiors.
Light up your space
When businesses are planning their interior, one of the main talking points is how to incorporate more light into our space. Glass can help to solve this issue by giving the impression of more natural light and more room.
Instead of using thick concrete walls to separate spaces, which can often feel oppressive, incorporating glass walls or partitions can do the same job. Glass creates the impression that the space is open and ultimately appears more spacious.
Privacy issues solved
If you want your place of work to appear open and contemporary, but you still need space for private meetings or for employees to work in peace away from noise, then installing glass partitioning can be a great option.
Using tinted or frosted glass for spaces that need to be a little more secure can be a great solution, and glass can also be branded or coloured to fit in with your company’s personality.
Glass can help to separate different departments and give a more organised look at the same time.
Modern and easy on the eye
Large glass walls are becoming extremely popular in newly built and newly refurbished offices, as employees seek to provide comfortable and contemporary places of work. This helps to impress clients and attract the right calibre of staff.
Reception areas, meeting rooms or waiting lounges are the first places your visitors so when the visit your business, first impressions count.
Commercial glass is a very durable and safe material. It can be fire-proofed and also suitable for extremely large spaces. Glass is also timeless and is sure to last your business for many years into the future, so you won’t need to worry about replacing it any time soon.
Given its effectiveness and modern, clean appearance, the material is relatively inexpensive and there are many customisable options that are available to invest in.
Glass is also a great conductor of natural light and heat, so if you invest in it in a big way, you might even see benefits in the form of lower utility bills for your business in the future.
Over a decade ago, research was carried out into the effects of noise on learning. 50 London schools were assessed, and their noise levels were compared with their pupils’ test results. There was a direct correlation: the noisier the school, the poorer the results.
In the decade since, a generation of new schools has been built with sound dampening suspended ceilings and walls. So now more pupils have the chance to achieve better results without the building getting in the way.
But what if you’re in an older school? What are the noise problems associated with older schools, and is there a solution that doesn’t involve demolishing and rebuilding to modern standards?
Fighting reverberation and background noise
Reverberation is, effectively, echo. In classrooms it’s a problem that forces the teacher to talk louder, but as they do so their voice echoes even more. The result is a vicious circle that makes hearing more difficult, especially for younger children. The solution lies in reducing the reverb caused by hard surfaces like glass, metal and plaster.
Background noise is any noise that isn’t the prime signal within a classroom (ie the teacher’s voice). It could be anything from the general classroom hubbub to the class next door, the sound of the traffic outside or the hum of the IT equipment. The greater the level of background noise, the greater the potential levels of stress, frustration and mishearing.
How suspended ceilings help
All suspended ceiling tiles have sound absorbing and attenuating properties. They reduce the ‘echoeyness’ within a room, prevent sound escaping, and limiting the level of noise from elsewhere.
Their capabilities can help any classroom become a more conducive environment for learning. They become quieter, less fractious places, which can benefit behaviour as well as academic progress. Teachers don’t have to shout to be heard. And children don’t have to try and filter extraneous noise before they can start learning.
Source: Judge Suspended Ceilings
When considering office partitioning, there are many different types of office partitions to choose from. Each have different qualities and uses depending on the type of office and business that you operate within, and are all have their own individual benefits.
Here are a selection of some of the more popular types of office partitions provided by Barrs Court Construction.
If your office requires spaces for high levels of focus, these partitions are a sensible option. These partitions offer lot's of privacy and can create a greater sense of focus as a result of the walls. Solid partitions are customisable, quick to install, ideal if you are looking to minimise interruption and distraction in the work area.
Glass office partitions, like solid partitions are still able to offer a certain level of privacy with blinds, these partitions are generally more discreet, with an aim to provide privacy, but without causing employees to feel cut off or excluded. These partitions are quick to install and are customisable with glass manifestations so you can add your corporate colours or logo to show off your corporate brand.
Demountable partitions give you the advantage of ultra-fast removal and installation times.
These types of partitions ensure maximum flexibility for your business, they are easily interchangeable and help your business create a more flexible option for an office floor space that is constantly evolving and growing.
Noise-minimising acoustic partitions come in a variety of designs including double glazed, single glazed and solid office partitions. Double glazed acoustic doors will provide better office soundproofing, while a solid partition will generally be more soundproof than a glass office partition. You can determine which acoustic partitions you need by the level of soundproofing you require.
If you would like to discuss the options for office partitions for your business in more detail then feel free to contact us for a more details on how we can help your business create a more suitable working environment, we are based in Bristol and work throughout the UK.
With employees working longer and feeling less appreciated by their superiors it is no surprise that levels of productivity in the work place have subsequently reduced.
Having a break out area for your employees has been proven to boost productivity, it allows them to take their breaks in an area that is designed to stimulate relaxation and offer a place to relax for a while, connect with fellow colleagues and re-charge those batteries for the remainder of the working day.
So how can you design your break out area to offer a relaxing place for your employees that will boost their productivity?
Getting the colour scheme right in your break area is more important than you may initially think. Choosing colours that offer a light, relaxing atmosphere is important when trying to encourage a rise in productivity levels. Orange stimulates the brain with creative and imaginative energy. Blue is recognised as a colour of calm and relaxation.
An underestimated piece of furniture that is commonly found in the home, is one of the most effective pieces of furniture that you can buy for your breakout area. Sofas are heavily related to relaxing at home, so injects an element of the ‘home from home’ feel in the office.
The kitchen has been often referred to as the heart of the home, so there is no wonder that making a kitchen the heart of the office boosts the mood and furthermore the productivity of your employees. Providing a quality kitchen with great facilities will reduce the need for employees to have to travel down the road to get food and drink throughout the day, meaning they can enjoy their break all in one place without the unnecessary coffee runs in the pouring rain.
Utilise your break area when there are celebrations to be had, like birthdays and Christmas. Making your break area the hub for connecting and encouraging everyone to come together will leave a lasting impression and a great atmosphere in the office. When designing your break area, make sure you create a space big enough to hold special events and parties.
Offer your employees something fun to do whilst they unwind in the break room. Popular installations are pool tables, video games and televisions. Activities allow employees to let off steam and distracts them from the busy working environment for a while. Giving your employees a relaxing activity to partake in during their break is proven to boost productivity, as it offers a release.
ASK YOUR EMPLOYEES
When designing or updating your break room, one of the most important things you need to continuously consider is how will this break area benefit employees. You can make this easier for yourself when designing your break area by listening to, valuing and considering the opinions of your team that will actually be the ones utilising the area.