The folks at US textbook rental site Boundless are passionate about employee health and office culture. Here, they share a few easy tips for making sure you're creating a healthy environment of your own.
Crafting A Healthy Environment
1. Embrace the Power of Plants: Researchers aren't entirely sure why, but indoor plants help reduce stress, so you should definitely consider adding some greenery to your space. Unless you've got a green thumb, be sure to choose plants that are fairly resilient. We've had plenty of employees inadvertently kill bonsais, orchids and the like, and the frustration can negate the benefits these plants bring.
2. Seek Natural Light: Natural light is also key. Ideal for protecting vision and keeping employees productive, it keeps the body's regulatory processes running smoothly. If you don't have windows, consider a skylight or holding regular brainstorms on a walk outside to get some crucial Vitamin D.
3. Get Stand-Up Desks: Research has shown that sitting in front of a computer all day can have negative effects on your short AND long-term health, so companies everywhere are catching on to the appeal of stand-up desks. At Boundless, most of our team rocks stand-up desks, and many have found that it makes them feel much more energetic than hunching in front of a computer all day. Standing up while working can also help prevent slouching and alleviate back problems. Don't be fooled by stand-up setups that cost hundreds of dollars — we whip up adjustable desks with easy-to-assemble IKEA parts.
Fuelling The Team
4. Offer Healthy Snacks: The ever-present stress that office life brings can sap resources quickly, so be sure to have snacks on hand to help the team keep their energy levels in check. At Boundless, we provide healthy snacks — like tea, coffee, nuts, and dried fruit — because they're delicious and incredibly easy to keep in stock. Remember: it's important to keep decaf options on hand for those who shun caffeine. We've seen a surprising amount of employees make the decaf switch over the last few months, and most report sleeping far better afterward. Then again, most of these decaf converts fall off the wagon every other week.
5. Everything in Moderation: It's also key not to be draconian with your health focus — beer and wine are usually on hand at Boundless to help those who want to unwind toward the end of the day, and birthdays often see a major spike in workers' sugar intake. Thankfully, we have a couch for napping in the back room to help them work through the inevitable post-birthday-cake crash.
6. Repeat After Us: "Embrace the Nap": Rested employees are far more productive and make better decisions than their sleep-deprived counterparts, so resist scoffing at the idea of "sleeping on the job." Many companies are catching on to the benefits of napping, and at Boundless, we'd rather see our employees refreshed then propping their eyelids open with paperclips.
7. Promote Frequent Breaks: Everyone's work style is different. With that said, we encourage all of our employees to take regular breaks to help them decompress and handle the endless stream of tasks that roll in while working at a startup. A number of our employees take to the basketball court across the street for frequent disengagement sessions or even take a quick lap around the block. Stepping away from a difficult problem or project for a moment can bring some much needed clarity.
8. Find and Encourage Bike Storage: Most of our employees are very active-rock climbing on the weekends, training for half and full marathons — and many bike to work every day. It's essential to offer bike storage for those who commute via bike, and we've set aside a separate closet to accommodate our growing team's rides. Biking to the office has a number of environmental and health benefits, so it's great to encourage this practice whenever possible.
9. Foster Healthy Competition And Activities: Also, although it's currently out of commission due to some construction, we have a ping-pong table to encourage the team to get up from their desks and clear their minds. We've also found that it's great to give employees space to introduce their fellow teammates to their passions. One of our Content Leads practices yoga regularly, and she's been kind enough to lead us through a few in-office sessions to help the team decompress during particularly tough weeks.
10. Allow Pets in the Office: Finally, we've got our very own office dog, Pepe. Primarily on hand to guard HQ from intruders, he's also eminently adorable. Dogs in the workplace have been shown to significantly reduce stress, so consider allowing your employees to bring their own pets, if your landlord will consider it and you've got the space. Keep employees' allergies in mind here too — make sure the team is comfortable sharing their workspace with a new four-legged colleague.
How healthy is your office? [Boundless]