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Low cost ways of keeping it fun in the office 18 October 2016

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Bringing some fun into the office can stimulate learning and boost productivity. The costs can be low but the benefits are high.
Creating an office environment where employees can relax and have fun makes coming to work much more enjoyable and allows employers to get more from their workforce.

Numerous studies over the years have found direct links between the extent to which workers have fun and their productivity, delivery of good customer service, creativity and innovation within their job role.

According to Franky Rousell, head of design at Bruntwood, with the emergence of Generation Z in the workforce, more people who now work in offices have been educated in modernised spaces and the office is playing catch up to the education sector as a result.

“This generation also has an increased awareness of the world due to social media, so it’s really hard to pin them down for more than three years,” commented Franky.

“Staff loyalty is at an all time low, so it’s crucial the workspace gives that competitive edge and allows for fun activities. And this applies across all working sectors, not just "the creatives".”

But creating a fun atmosphere in the office doesn’t mean you need to install a slide to travel from one floor to another, or transform one of your meeting rooms into a video arcade. Making the office an exciting place to be can cost very little but have huge rewards.

Here we take a look at low cost ways of keeping it fun in the office.

A home away from home

No business should fail to consider the comfort of their staff, and this doesn’t just refer to physical comfort. If employees aren’t comfortable, they won’t be enjoying themselves.

In recent years there has been a shift towards the ‘home away from home’ style of office design. Of course this doesn’t mean adding family-like employee portraits or a comfy bed for workers to nap, but adding low cost features like beanbags or a bookshelf for employees to relax on their break can stimulate creativity.

CGI of the lounge area at Bruntwood's latest development, Neo

Studies from the World Green Building Council, the International Well Building Institute and Human Spaces have all found a profound link between the presence of natural elements and employee health, wellbeing and productivity. Little things like making sure blinds are open with natural light shining in, or adding a couple of office plants to the mix can help workers feel more at home.

Gaming

The benefits of playing games in the office are often better than employers may think. Not only have studies found that games improve memory, concentration and relieve stress but they also boost morale, improve talent retention and build on relationships within the office.

According to Liberty Games, 79 per cent of people say they would be more productive if their work was more game-like. Office sports like table tennis, table football and air hockey provide quick stress-relief and refresh the mind and body. Table tennis specifically improves and preserves mental ability, according to a physician from the Table Tennis Federation.

Break out space at Social Chain's office, 127 Portland Street
 

If these types of games are out of your budget, creating a weekly office quiz or bringing in a few old board games will encourage employees to work as a team while having fun.

Seating plan

Believe it or not, the way an office is structured can have a huge impact on the creativity of your staff. Separate spaces and closed off areas may be useful for meetings or quiet time but an open setting where workers can collaborate and discuss idea encourages innovation.

While moving offices to a space that allows this isn’t always low cost, there are ways within any office that can help here and the first step towards this is a well-structured seating plan.

Open plan layout

Place desks in ways that make it easy to converse and encourage physical interaction rather than emailing for minor questions. An open space improves team cohesion and communication which is great for brainstorming and developing ideas. And don’t be afraid to mix things up. Change the structure of the office every couple of months to keep things interesting.

Sounds

Having background sounds in the office can fully transform morale while costing next to nothing. But finding sounds that suit everyone can be difficult. On one hand, complete silence can be stressful and create a tense environment, while on the other, unwanted and loud music can disturb productivity and aggregate workers.

Some employees can only work in silence and that’s fine, all offices should have meeting rooms or quiet areas where workers can escape to when necessary. In the main working space, go with a low relaxing background sound which just blocks out the silence. To add a bit of fun to the mix, on an afternoon or a Friday, let workers choose what they want to listen to.

Neo lounge area
Neo open plan working space