Keep Calm and Work On: How to Reduce Stress in an Office Setting

How do you reduce stress in an office environment? That is the question.

Stress is as normal as can be in an office environment. It is the body’s “fight or flight” response to everyday office situations such as an impending deadline, unpleasant workmates, and a heavy workload.

Over time, too much stress will take a toll on the physical and mental health of employees. Moreover, when their health suffers, productivity and the overall growth of the company suffers as well.

In the US, roughly fifty percent of the 550 million lost working days annually are from stress-related absenteeism. This is why, as a business owner, it is your responsibility to keep everyone in tip-top shape at all times. Here are some of the proven methods of busting stress and boosting the productivity of your workforce:

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Be Smart With Giving Breaks

Remember that productivity must be inspired, not forced. Employers must motivate their workforce to ensure quality output, not force them to work by imposing strict working hours while breathing down their necks. Unfortunately, some companies fail to understand that they cannot expect quality work done with weary minds.

This is why you should implement adaptive scheduling to give your employees adequate breaks. For example, you could schedule 15-minute breaks during meetings to restore readiness and give employees the opportunity to discuss the matters at hand.

It is also a great strategy to cut your employee’s hours into 90-minute bursts and then encourage them to take 30-minute breaks in-between. According to what researchers call the “Ultradian Rhythm,” a human mind can only operate at its peak for ninety minutes before experiencing a significant decrease in focus, sharpness, and overall work quality.

This is why instead of 15-minute rest breaks within four to six solid hours, you should consider spreading them out to several short breaks that are about 20 to 30 minutes long.

Work-Life Balance

To help employees make the most out of their breaks, business owners can provide facilities that can help them blow off some steam. In the past couple of years, startups, particularly in the tech space, were having game consoles, televisions, cafeterias, and massage chairs as ways to recharge the workers’ creative juices. If you are not interested in having a fully-fledged game room at your office, then you should at least consider getting the staple Ping Pong table.

As a company, you might be hesitant to try something new and risk something that’s been working quite well for a long time. However, if you nail the perfect work-life balance at the office, you should see increased productivity, motivation, and employee retention. This will also promote an enjoyable company culture that can bring employees closer so they can work better together. Just make sure that your play facilities are not directly accessible and will not be distractions.

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Go Green and Blue

A dull and colorless office is a major factor that increases the stress of workers. Up to now, there are still employers who believe that an office should be stripped down to the barebones to maximize efficiency and eliminate distractions. However, countless successful startups today can attest that this is a big fat lie.

In addition to play areas, business owners can also de-stress the environment by adding more color, particularly the color green and blue. According to a paper published by the American Psychological Association (APA), using household plants to decorate the office can enrich the workers’ quality of life.

As a rule of thumb, you should try having at least one plant for every three employees in your office. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but indoor plants also serves as filters which can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) a pollutant that can induce feelings of fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, and the inability to concentrate.

Apart from plants, having aquariums in the office can also offer many health benefits that can de-stress employees. According to research published in the journal Environment and Behavior, aquariums provide significant beneficial effects that improve a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing. They offer a soothing effect that can reduce work-related stress, improve concentration, and uplift the employees’ moods.

Promote Better Organization

Another major contributor to stress at the office is disorder. Paper stacks, dirty mugs, trash; these ugly items can exacerbate stress and demotivate employees. This is why you need to practice organization at the workplace to give your employees the sense of structure, morale and motivation.

There are several ways to increase workplace organization as a business owner. First, you can start focusing more on digital documents to reduce paper waste and promote seamless collaboration. You can do this with plenty of free online management platforms and cloud services such as Google Drive, Trello and Evernote.

Aside from organization at the workplace, you should also train your employees to be organized in the way they work as well. Make sure you document critical business processes using workflows that are visible and always accessible. Encourage the use of visual aids such as flowcharts, tables, and lists to keep everyone on the same page.

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Although stress can never be fully eliminated, it can be significantly reduced with practices that improve the workplace and the workforce’s ethics. Remember that, in any enterprise, productivity is the key to growth and success. You can unlock your company’s true greatness by focusing on the things that affect productivity. This includes motivation, organization, recreation, and other stress-busting practices at the office.

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