Business leaders would never be expected to give staff the gifts in the 12 Days of Christmas song, (maids-a-milking and lords-a-leaping are wholly impractical) so Sketch Studios, a commercial furniture specialist, has come up with 12 practical tokens of appreciation employers could give instead.
Day One: Better tea/coffee/refreshments; fundamental to the wellbeing of every worker – isn’t this what gets us through the day? Adopt the same café-style culture as those on the high street and invest in some decent beans/tea and equipment. It’ll make staff feel valued and will draw them back to the workplace for their refuelling.
Day Two: Plants. As well as great health benefits, they generate oxygen and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, aiding concentration and lifting spirits. Plants are a calming influence and great to look at.
Day Three: A height-adjustable desk. One size will not fit all – it creates poor posture, a major cause of back pain, stress and repetitive strain injury. Adjustable desks allow employees to find their perfect setting. Some even allow them to stand while they’re working.
Day Four: A decent ergonomic chair. Humans are not designed to sit all day, so invest in chairs that aid posture. It may be tempting to invest in trendy tub chairs or modular seats to spruce up the office/reception, but they will not help those who are desk-based.
Day Five: More flexible space. Today’s workers are expected to multi-task, so create environments that help them do this. Tasks may include undertaking focused work, reading, attending meetings and collaborating with colleagues. Then there’s a need to squeeze in a break away from work and have some social interaction. Those with a variety of spaces to choose from will be more productive. Who wants to sit behind a desk all day?
Day Six: Headphones. Noise can be a major irritation. It prevents concentration and adds to stress levels. If you’re unable to provide appropriate spaces for the task at hand, such as a quiet room for reading or individual-focused work, these may do the trick.
Day Seven: Better temperature control. If it’s fine for men but too cold for women, (as the recent gender debate suggested) set the temperature between the two and adjust to the daily outside temperature as opposed to what it should be for the season. Otherwise winter woollies will have to suffice.
Day Eight: Improved lighting. Access to natural light is a must, particularly during the sun-starved winter season. Shift furniture to make windows more accessible and where natural light is limited, invest in office lamps to prevent eyestrain.
Day Nine: A computer upgrade. With more people using mobile technology it’s easy to overlook the fixed desktop equipment, yet for those who are office-based it’s their professional lifeline. A revamp will make staff more productive, as they’ll spend less time waiting for their machine to perform tasks.
Day 10: More storage space (less likely to be found in agile working environments). Staff members who bring in their own equipment need somewhere to put it. The same applies to those who exercise; set aside a storage area for kit; it’s more secure and keeps the place tidy.
Day 11: An office clean-up. Initiate a tidy campaign and give staff 30 minutes or so to clear up their working areas. Office-based workers can de-clutter desks, file away paperwork, clean out drawers, move items from the top of filing cabinets, smarten up those wilting plants and remove out-of-date food from the fridge. Flexible staff may want to check the leads/chargers they borrowed for their laptop, tablet, or mobile are back where they should be.
Day 12: Pimp the small room. Spruce up the toilets/washroom for Christmas; give them a lick of paint or re-tile, pipe in Christmas music, add a plant or two and some decent accessories. If there are high-level water tanks, turn them into mini-aquariums or encourage employees to contribute to their mural.
Sketch Managing Director Justin Bass comments: “While the partridge in a pear tree, turtle doves, French hens, calling birds and gold rings may be a step too far, a bit of tinsel and a tree is not enough. Even if one of our suggestions were taken on board, it would have a huge effect on the moral and productivity of staff. Although pipers piping and drummers drumming may have the same short-term effect, they would not work in the long-term.”