Imagine yourself somewhere beautiful in nature. Yes, we know that sounds cliché and cringe-worthy, but just do it. Whether you’re on top of a snow covered mountain or taking a walk on a beach during a topical rainstorm, chances are your five senses are singing with the wonderful stimuli bombarding them. Now imagine yourself in your office. Perhaps the only sense working is your sight, as you stare at the screen in front of you. While you may no longer be conscious of the other four senses as you revert into robot mode, your sense of smell, sound, touch and taste are still influencing your present experience. We’re going to discuss why designing your office space with all five senses in mind is crucial for creating a comfortable workplace that’s conducive to great work.
Our sense of sight picks up on décor, colour schemes and natural light, among other things. As highlighted by event location consultants Convene in their blog, colour psychology defines how different colours affect our behaviour and inclination to work in particular ways. For example, a room full of red will create an atmosphere of focus in which tasks are completed with greater accuracy. Blue is calming and induces creativity. Yellow, on the other hand, encourages sociability and liveliness – perfect for a meeting room.
Natural light is another important component of an incredible office space. Our circadian rhythms are heavily influenced by natural light – they control our moods, energy levels and sleep-wake patterns. Having more natural light than artificial light in your office space is vital for the mental and physical health of everyone in the space. By opting for sunlight over light bulbs, you’ll also reduce your energy bill. So open those blinds and turn the overhead lights off.
Did you know that sound affects not only our concentration, but our emotions, brain waves, breathing, heart rate and even hormone secretion? That’s according to sound consultant Julian Treasure, talking to the Guardian. Doubtless, many reading this won’t need the proof of a study (published in the British Journal of Psychology) to convince them that you can experience a 66% dip in concentration if you hear people talking while you’re reading or writing. This is problematic, given that reading and writing make up a large part of the work that’s carried out in offices. As we touched upon in our previous blog about plants, office hedges can help absorb noise, as can dividers. Having a designated quiet area is also important to ensure those that are more sensitive to sound can remain productive. For more advice on how to achieve acoustic comfort, check out this white paper, Sound Matters, produced by the GSA Public Buildings Service in the USA.
Our sense of touch tells us how comfortable we are – if we’re not comfortable, it’s hard to be productive. Make sure your office space has a balance between hard textures (like plastic, metal and wood) and softer textures, like carpet, cloth and even plants. Temperature is another factor linked to our levels of comfort. According to this article, 21oC is the ideal temperature to work at. Try and avoid using air conditioning too – opt for open windows instead.
Our sense of smell is the most closely linked to memory and emotion. As such, smell is one sense that should not be abandoned when designing the optimal work environment. Keeping your office ventilated with fresh air will get rid of mingling food and body odours, and ensure concentration levels don’t dip. A range of essential oils can also help boost productivity – try burning some cinnamon, mint, lemon, orange or rosemary in an oil burner. You can also use a room diffuser to ensure a pleasant smelling environment.
Ok, so your staff aren’t going to be tasting your work environment, but taste is still an important sense that needs to be satisfied during working hours – plus, we all know that an army marches on its stomach. Encourage a culture of healthy eating by offering meal vouchers or ensuring your office has a kitchen where staff can prepare lunch. If you can’t budget for meal vouchers, then perhaps you can invest in some delicious coffee or teas instead.
Stationery suppliers like OfficeBox realise the importance of a healthy working environment – that’s why we’re leading the change in the stationery supplier industry. Download our guide to find out more on how to create an amazing office space
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