Is Your Workplace A Prison?

Is your office caging you in?
© samuraitop | 123RF Stock Photo

Does your office feel like prison? Devoid of natural light, lacking in morale, and a bit of a rabbit warren? Well, it could be affecting your mental health. Guardian professional, Monica Parker, formerly worked for the Department of Justice in Florida and with convicts facing death row. She has labelled some workplaces ‘destructive daily habitats’, the effects of which can be debilitating for staff health and wellbeing.

You work in an office, not a prison, and a workspace shouldn't be punishing. Unlock employees shackled and chained to their desks and help them thrive in an innovative and healthy work environment with these tips.

Get mobile

With today's various channels of digital communication, employees basically only need a tech device and internet connection to stay in touch. We’re at the point where we could almost collaborate from the moon by teleconferencing through an app or sharing documents via cloud computing. With this in mind, employers should design a workspace that motivates people to separate themselves from their seats and move around the office throughout the day

Maybe start work gossip that spreads like wildfire so fast people have to respond with face-to-face interaction … OK, we’re not really condoning that. Try nominating a day of the week where email is prohibited. Force employees to get up and walk to a co-worker to share an idea or deliver a message. Rather than sit in a conference room to meet with a team member, plan a mobile meeting and chat while strolling the building or taking a walk outside.

Run wild, run free

Nature deficit disorder – it's a real thing. The National Trust published a study arguing that children who don't have close relationships with nature can suffer consequences to childhood development and even health risks. A disconnect with nature can be damaging. Besides, the great outdoors inspires change and growth!

Creative giants like Google and Sony have even started to experiment with working environments in wilderness locations, such as England's Lake District. Sony Mobile's HR head, Roy White, believes natural environments can provide a balanced sense of perspective. Daniel Start, author of Wild Guide and the Wild Swimming series, agrees, saying the wild can inspire new solutions and breakthroughs.

Sure, not all companies can't be expected to travel to the far reaches of the Amazon for creative inspiration, but you can incorporate collaboration-encouraging spaces with trendy furniture and decor. Place wooden benches or even outdoor daybeds and loveseats outside the office and host a team-building event or brainstorming session to foster staff bonds and inspire new visions.

Eat, drink and be merry

They often say that the way to the heart is through the stomach. Family and friends create bonds while cooking and enjoying good meals, and companies should be no different. Website directory business AboutUs, for example, uses a grocery delivery service to provide its employees with boutique coffee and nutritious snacks. Keeping well-fed, caffeinated and happy employees can be worth the extra expense. 

‘Make sure your staff always has access to high-quality food,’ emphasises the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Along with espresso and trail mix, boost company morale and let employees know they're valued by sporadically providing gourmet lunches.

Creating a sense of play can also free employees from their monitors with de-stressing, friendship-building breaks. Use a conference table as a ping-pong table or transform a meeting room into a gaming spot with a PS4 or Xbox One. Breaking during the day with a quick game of table tennis or zoning out to the game Flower can provide employees with mental rejuvenation, as well as overall work satisfaction.

Have you got any other tips for keeping happy and healthy in the workplace? Let us know what works for you and your colleagues or employees.

Author bio: Zoe is a retired business consultant. Now she works with startups and soloprenuers to streamline their agendas and achieve work-life balance. She lives in Perth with her husband, Nate, and her two dogs.

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