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Zen Offices for Better Employee Efficiency

by Emily Wilson 2 years ago in business

Office Decoration

The topic of Zen offices is increasingly present online, because a growing number of entrepreneurs are interested in alternative ways of improving their employees' efficiency.

It's not good enough to simply put a desk and a chair in a room, provide Wi-Fi, food, and a couple of other necessities to your employee. Company owners are becoming aware of the effects of surroundings on how fast employees will be at doing their tasks, and to what extent it will be quality work. Everyone who runs a business wants to know what more they can do to help their employees show their maximum ability, and maintain a high level of efficiency.

This is how Zen offices have finally come into focus. Their significance for employees' productivity has proven highly great, but only if they contain all of the necessary elements.

What is Zen?

Japanese culture contains many interesting attitudes towards life, especially its Buddhist philosophy Zen. In the beginning, it represented a simplified view of Buddhism without any deeper study of the scripture, focusing on meditation and following intuition. In modern times, Zen is more referred to as a state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is highly significant to every human being because it enables us to reach focus and to keep it only on the present moment. Consequently, we are less worried about the future, namely, things we can't control and don't know anything about.

Mindfulness vs multitasking

If you are not well-focused, your productivity won't be as high as it could be. You need to realize the difference between doing a lot of work and getting things done. Being productive means making as few mistakes as possible. Otherwise, you'll simply be wasting your time and resources.

The problem occurred when people started appreciating the skill of multitasking in many areas of work. It has become desirable to be a great multi-tasker - a person who can do a lot of different tasks at the same time, making themselves more valuable workers for growingly hectic job demands.

The truth is - anybody who believes and represents themselves as "good multitaskers" are the very ones who are not good at multitasking. Those people believe that the very fact that they deal with a lot of obligations at the same time means it's a virtue in itself. On the contrary, working a lot doesn't mean working effectively. You can't take hard work as being the same as effective work.

Effective work requires mindfulness, namely focus or awareness. It means spending a deliberate amount of time and a specific amount of energy on doing and completing a task effectively and doing it right. If you are mindful about your current task (which is, preferably, also your only one at the moment), it means you will put more thought into it, being aware of possible problems before they even arise and being critical about every step. In other words, you will do more quality work.

How exactly a Zen office improves productivity?

Creating a Zen office can hugely increase your employees' productivity. Usual offices have a lot of disturbances that interrupt employees' focus, like noises, banging doors, telephones, chatting. Many employees find it difficult to focus solely on their job, having to spend more time on a specific task and correcting more mistakes in the end.

Including Zen principles to your office design means you'll decrease your employees' stress levels by providing them with peaceful space where they can focus without interruptions and where they also can recharge. This prevents your employees from burning out on work, allowing them to decompress when they need it. The fact is that every working day involves a lot of problem-solving, creativity and fast thinking. The situation requires a clear mind that's not cluttered with trivial and distracting things. A mindful person will also have better communication with others due to the fact that they are more self-aware.

Creating a Zen office is, then, a process that works towards employees' satisfaction and peace of mind.

1. Let the natural light in

The majority of employees spend most of their time indoors. Many people don't react well on lack of natural light. Most of us respond better to a bright, sunny day than to a dark, gloomy atmosphere in a closed space. It makes people drowsy after only 3-4 hours of work.

According to some studies, people exposed to natural light are more alert, while around half of them will be less drowsy if they have almost constant access to natural light. It's also more straining to the eye if it can't recover from fatigue appropriately due to lack of daylight.

2. Mindful breaks in a relaxation room

A Zen office also includes appropriate space for relaxation where employees can have moments for themselves. In many cases, it can be a type of comfortable kitchen where they can eat and drink while chatting or simply sitting quietly.

This space needs to be comfortable so that your employees can relieve neck pain and rest their eyes from strain coming from looking at the monitor all the time. They can also use that space for informal meetings, where ideas can be exchanged freely.

Maybe the most important beverage for most workers is coffee. The act of mindfulness can also be performed through drinking this great beverage. Allowing your employees to enjoy every step of the process of drinking coffee means a lot. The time spent cherishing the smell, the first sip and the flavour means a lot to the mind that needs rest. It's the time when practising mindfulness is of great benefit - a person learns to live only in the moment, leaving worries and tasks and simply enjoying. Providing an office coffee machine, as well as one in the kitchen will allow employees to spend their breaks mindfully and also stop drowsiness in the afternoon.

3. Separate places for quiet work

Some employees deal with surrounding disturbances and noise better than others. So, it's necessary to provide a quiet room for those who need to focus more or who simply want to be alone when doing specific or sensitive tasks. Even if your employees want to make a personal call, they need to have a room where they can be on their own.

In other words, it's important to have different types of working spaces that work for different types of workers. That way, you'll ensure each and every one of your employees do their best.

4. Motivational and personal items

Having inspiring artwork, as well as personal items like family photos does a lot for creativity and inspiration. It has long been proven that being surrounded by artwork, inspirational quotes and posters awakens the mind and inspires creativity. Furthermore, it also comes in handy if you have clients coming into the office as this type of office decorations feel more welcoming.

Encourage your employees to put up motivational posters on the wall, as well as paintings or pictures that they admire or find beautiful. Pictures of nature also do a lot when it comes to focusing your mind on something - water, snow-capped mountains of a forest are always welcomed sceneries on a wall. Whatever eases the mind and the eye should be on display.

5. Decluttering the office

Decluttered space means decluttered mind. Many people associate clutter with suffocating atmosphere, so it's no wonder they find it hard to concentrate on their work when they are surrounded by piles of things. Encourage your workers to get rid of unnecessary items from their desk and put them away in hidden places. Also, make sure you don't clutter the office with a lot of empty chairs and desks and devices that nobody uses. The office should create a feeling of a free flow of air.

6. Background noise

While no one says it's ok to work in total silence all the time, it's been proven that surrounding noises like conversations, squeaking sounds of chairs, telephone ringing or public announcements seriously interrupt focus. Ambient noise would be a perfect solution - a consistent volume of soothing sounds can hide the distracting sounds. It would also help if you can provide separate offices or at least cubicles.

Music played throughout working days is still controversial. Some believe listening to music is highly productive while others find it completely distracting. However, the truth is somewhere in the middle. If you play low or moderate-volume music, it will most probably have a positive effect on your employees. Avoid music with clear lyrics because they will definitely distract people from working. It's important that the music is preferred by workers and it would be great if every worker could choose their personal preferences when it comes to the type of music.

7. Beneficial plants

Greenery inside the office undoubtedly helps to soothe the mind and inspiring creativity. Choosing the right potted plants is necessary if you want to bring nature inside. People need nature and spending 8 hours every day indoors can lead to depression if the surroundings are sterile and cold.

For example, Red-Edged Dracaena is perfect for an office not only because it's easy to grow but it also reduces amounts of benzene from the environment (present in plastic, synthetic fibres and dye). The Snake Plant is another great choice as it doesn't need a lot of natural light nor frequent care. Plus, it turns carbon dioxide into oxygen even during the night. Small, cute plants like bonsai can decorate every desk - small enough to avoid making clutter and cute enough to inspire creativity.

Final comment

It's obvious that creating a Zen office isn't that difficult at all. It doesn't need you to invest in expensive equipment or to apply complex rules. It is only a matter of careful arrangement of things that actually come naturally to us.

Exposing your employees to more sunlight, artwork and comfortable surroundings where there are no loud and annoying sounds means having a place perfect for maximized productivity. Efficiency comes when you realize that "more" doesn't necessarily mean "better" - a motto that applies to every aspect of our lives, including work. A Zen office is then a place where efficiency comes as a result of creating optimum conditions for uninterrupted focus.


Emily Wilson

I am a business psychologist with a passion for travelling and marketing. Researching, exploring and writing are my favourite things to do. Besides that, I love animals and music.

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