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14 Jan 2016

The secret to workplace happiness

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Office interior design practice devises equation to calculate staff wellbeing

Happiness = (T9+A8) + (F7+HC6) – B7

This, according to an office design specialist, is the formula to apply if you want to know how happy your staff are.

Peldon Rose conducted a survey of almost 1,000 people to formulate the equation, under which F means “frolleagues” – a portmanteau of friends and colleagues – HC stands for home comforts, A is appreciation, T is trust and B is Boredom. The equation aims to reflect the relative importance of each of these factors.

“It was clear from the survey data that having people who believe that they are trusted and appreciated were the most important factors in helping to deliver a happy office, with boredom being the most negative factor,” said Peldon Rose of its findings. “Trusting staff and appreciating them helps to foster more workplace friendships, another critical factor, while improving home comforts also plays a key role in fostering those friendships as well as building trust and appreciation – a virtuous circle.”

The survey revealed office design to be crucial to workplace happiness, with more than a third of respondents wishing they had a better designed work environment. 65% of respondents said a more diverse office environment would break up the monotony of the working day. While 70% confessed to feeling bored sitting at their desks, only 27% said they had quiet zones to escape to. When asked about the factors that helped them build better relationships with colleagues, communal social spaces and informal breakout areas were cited as some of the most important.

A pleasant working environment may be particularly important during the winter months, which 80% of respondents said negatively affected their mood and productivity.

“To get the most out of your staff you need to get the most of your office, and that includes using every inch of floor space to offer variety and stimulation,” said Peldon Rose chief executive Jitesh Patel. “It’s all too easy for productivity and motivation to become impacted by the seasonally adjusted issues of a cold, dark, damp commute, leaden skies and winter malaise. This is a widespread issue, which businesses can easily tackle with a few simple initiatives.”

The practice suggests introducing sit-stand desks, standing meeting tables or even ping-pong or pool tables, to ensure staff are more active during the day, and plants for visual stimulation. Soft furniture such as sofas and comfy chairs, it says, can improve acoustics and also provide space for informal meetings, quiet working or a break from the desk, while social spaces and communal eating areas help create interaction. Facilities like showers and bike storage can encourage people to be more active.

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