Simple workplace changes can improve job life

Low cost improvements can reduce stress, increase productivity

(iStockPhoto / RapidEye)

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The environment in which you work can have an impact on how productive you are and affect your mood.

"It might sound silly but it is important what a workplace environment is like," said clinical psychologist Doctor Donna Rockwell. "People are more motivated There is better productivity if the environment in which people are working in is conducive to that if they feel comfortable."

Rockwell said people can physically feel different.

"There actually is a chemical change in the body when we're more comfortable where we are," said Rockwell. "We produce stress hormones and create cardiovascular disease and other health concerns when we're not comfortable."

ISCG in Royal Oak works with businesses to improve their work spaces and individual work stations.

"Great design and thoughtful products can remove stress, or eliminate stress, reduce muscle pain and eye strain, but it can also elevate moods, promote healthier work styles and work habits and inspire creativity," said Mary Ann Lievois, CEO of ISCG.

ISCG works with a business to determine what works for them, taking into consideration the corporate culture, brand identity, technology and life and career styles of the employees. They also consider who is coming into the workspace and interacting with the employees.

Lievois said they address both the physical and emotional needs of a business and its employees. The physical needs address the work habits and work styles and can include a great chair and ergonomic tools.

The emotional needs address stress levels, mood and improving creativity. Some of the ways to address emotional needs are privacy, being green and social needs.

Pat Milliken Ford in Redford hired ISCG to update the dealership. Brian Godfrey, general manager at Pat Milliken Ford, said it made a definite difference.

"When I come to work in the morning, it just feels like a better place to be," said Godfrey.

Godfrey said ISCG fixed a big problem for employees at their desks.

"With the old workstations, it was very uncomfortable to use the computer, it was kind of an afterthought," said Godfrey.

Employees of the dealership said the new desks and chairs fit within their work area better.

"Not knocking my knees as much, not hitting the drawers as much, you have open maybe unnecessarily on the old cube style desks," said John Blanchard, sales development manager at Pat Milliken Ford.

Joel Miller, the director of sales at ISCG, said he has seen a lot of awful workstations.

"Old doors that were propped up onto milk cartons which is probably the worst I've seen," said Miller.

Miller said one sign of a poor work station can be a fixed chair that cannot be adjusted for someone's body size. He recommends a good ergonomic desk chair, an adjustable keyboard tray and a monitor arm at a work station.

"You also want to bring the work to you," Miller said. "Many times you'll find that people are set up at their work station where they have their monitors back, their keyboard tray pulled out, their head turned to the side and they're typing at the wrong height."

Lievois said there are many things a company can do that doesn't cost a lot, but could make an impact on the workspace. They include sound masking, access to natural light and bringing visual interests into an area. Visual interests can include wallpaper or bringing in color.

ISCG recommends businesses give their employees daylight views.

"It's very important for employees to have access to natural light and daylight because it helps reduce boredom, and it provides a level of a mood enhancer," said Lievois.

At ISCG, they use something called sound masking. It's white noise that helps keep people from being distracted.

"When you turn it on, you can really hear the difference," said Lievois. "You might hear people talking, but you don't exactly hear what they're saying, and that is helping employees be more productive with their performance without having to hear what their neighbor is saying every step of the way. And it's also less stressful for them so they don't feel that everyone is listening in to them."

Lievois also recommends giving people a place to take and make private phone calls since they work all day and still have to take care of the rest of their lives. In their workplace they created a little room employees can go to take care of personal business.

Creating areas where employees can collaborate or work on projects or even just eat away from their workstation is also a good idea.

"In today's technology world, it's so easy not to get up, because you can get so tied to your laptop or iPad or iPhone, it isn't always something that you need to get up for because of the enhancements of technology, so we want to move people away, get them into areas that they can collaborate, enjoy lunch or breakfast in another setting that is more like home," said Lievois.

For more information on ISCG, click here.