Imagine walking into the office of a prospective employer. It’s for a job which you aren’t too sure whether it’s the right role for you. There may have been something on the company website or the way in which they present themselves on social media which has put you off somewhat. Still, nothing ventured nothing gained. It’ll be good experience even if nothing else.
When you enter the office, there’s something about the whole atmosphere which confirms your doubts. The room is quiet in an uncomfortable way; people don’t hide the fact that they’re looking at this new entity entering their workplace, but they don’t greet you with a hello or even a smile.
And you notice, right down to the carpet under your feet, that the whole office is drab and worn out. There’s no life or spark in the business. The only purpose your interview has served is to confirm that your gut instinct was right: this isn’t the business for you.
On the other side of this scenario is a business struggling to attract the right talent to drive their business forward. The office environment saps the energy out of everybody who works there and the problem runs from the ground up.
Whilst a physical redecoration cannot cure wellbeing woes overnight, it’s vital to understand that items such as office flooring can severely harm your ability to create a dynamic, productive and happy place of work.
The Effect Of Office Flooring On Lighting & Atmosphere
There are countless studies into the psychological impact of colours on an individual (neatly summarised here). The difficulty when applying these findings to choosing an office colour is that there are so many individual people with their own mindset and moods to consider at once.
These different tastes are one reason why the go-to office design of recent times has been white walls and a matching ceiling grid with dark grey carpet tiles on the floor. These are often chosen as they are considered “neutral” and “safe”. But all-white-everything can often result in a cold, soulless workplace and a workforce which is not as productive as they could be.
Whilst first-time visitors and clients arriving at your office aren’t likely to consciously note the colour of your office flooring colour, the fact that it’s near-permanently in their peripheral vision is going to have an effect.
If it helps to brighten up a neutral or plain wall covering, such as whitewashed walls being paired with sporadic brand coloured carpet tiles, it can add life to your office interior.
At the same time, loud and exuberant wall coverings can clash with lively flooring colours. In this instance, it would help your overall atmosphere to have a plain and sensible office flooring choice.
A lot of this is due to the way our eyes perceive what we’re looking at under the lighting conditions. Dark carpets absorb a lot of light and even though this might be a good choice for being able to absorb dirt off our feet, this might not be great for lighting levels if paired with a dark wall colour.
The colours in your office subliminally impact a person’s mood and if other factors in the workplace are negatively impacting mood, at the same time as your colour scheme, you’re going to struggle in terms of creating a pleasing atmosphere.
The Effect That Atmosphere Has On Workplace Wellbeing
The atmosphere in your office can make or break how the workforce responds in terms of overall workplace wellbeing.
If staff are up against it due to an overbearing client or a tight deadline, they can experience a strengthening of team spirit and friendship when operating inside a healthy atmosphere. They’ll also work better and be more likely to produce better results.
When working within a negative or stifled atmosphere, external pressures can become a burden which increase tensions and heighten any personal annoyances. This breeds a harmful team spirit and has the opposite effect of all the positives outlined above.
The end result of a negative atmosphere is a low level of workplace wellbeing.
Why Workplace Wellbeing Matters
Workplace wellbeing matters because staff who have a healthier mental state benefit from higher enjoyment and productivity, whilst also being more likely to maintain their current employment. Putting the holistic attitude of wanting your workforce to be stress-free to one side, your company will benefit in an economic sense too.
In their academic book Promoting Workplace Well-being, Neil Thompson and John Bates explore the topic in depth and outline the many benefits to employers. Staff are more committed and more productive;there are reduced levels of sickness absence, reduced numbers of conflict and “organisations that focus on well-being of their human resources perform substantially better than their rivals”.
As Millennials become the dominant demographic across the workforce, the need to prioritise workplace wellbeing is more crucial. As a general rule, the Millennial generation look for value and reasoning in why they have to do something, rather than just doing it because “they have to” or simply because it’s their job, like older generations tend to. If this trend is ignored it can chip away at their wellbeing in the workplace.
And lower wellbeing results in lower benefits.
Flooring Shouldn’t Be Considered In Isolation
Of course, no one thing can solely influence employee wellbeing, just how no one thing can change the office atmosphere on its own. But individual changes can shape the atmosphere - and therefore, eventually, employee wellbeing - incrementally.
Office flooring can make or break a well-curated interior design scheme by undermining the overall aesthetic you’re trying to achieve. And a stimulating office flooring choice which brightens your workspace and subtly enhances the atmosphere can be negated by overbearing, dull or inappropriate office furniture such as desks or chairs.
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