All the Way

 

Do you walk into your working area, smile and think to yourself “what a nice place to spend my time?" If not, why not?

You spend a large portion of your life in your office, so that environment should be as inviting and pleasant as possible. Whether you are in a cubicle city, a small storefront office or a converted garage at home, improvements can be made!

This list of common things that commonly detract from a good environment is far from complete, but is a place to start and covers a lot of the major items:

  Small Office
 
  • There is a bare minimum of fresh air in the room.
  • Old furniture looks shabby and brings down the tone and aesthetics of the place.
  • The carpets haven’t been shampooed in over a year.
  • The office is too dim or too bright and stark, or older fluorescent lighting adds a sickly green hue to the room.
  • There is a lot of clutter - stacks of papers or folders or things that don’t have a home.
  • There are broken or stained ceiling tiles.
  • Marks on the doors or walls.
  • Dirt on top of cabinets or out of reach places - generally poor housekeeping.
  • A general sterile look to the place.
  • Mutant zombies of “employees past” moaning and chewing your ankles.
 

Sometimes in order to get a company up and running or even keep it running, little or no attention is put on the aesthetics or comfort of the place but once a company is functioning, aesthetics can make things run soooo much smoother. It’s long since been acknowledged that “rising the tone" of the place raises production and improving the environment of the place can help with that.

We've thought about indoor environments for a long time - after all, it's our business. And for nearly thirty years we've thought about indoor environments from the standpoint of dirty air conditioning. That makes sense because Indoor Air Quality is so dramatically affected by a dirty air conditioning system. After having had the air conditioning system cleaned by us we constantly hear how much nicer the office is to work in. Of course, we should hear that because we should have increased air flow - more fresh air and reduced particles that irritate a body.

  Messy Office
 

As a service company, we are in and out of different buildings of every sort, some of which you walk into and thing, "It's nice in here!" and others...well, not so much. Why? What's the difference?

Cleaning an A/C system or doing an IAQ assessment can make a vast difference. But why stop at just cleaning the air conditioning system? Or by just painting the walls? Improving an indoor environment is an integrated activity that includes a lot of things. Pulling it off usually takes a special, creative individual, in-tune with aesthetics and hopefully somewhat bossy.

 

Hitting the above points, we start with:

  • Improve the level of fresh air in the room above the "bare minimum".

    This is because “out side air intakes” on your air conditioning system are usually set at State minimum levels. Setting them higher costs more money in heating and cooling - a lot! So they are usually set at minimum levels. (This is assuming you just had your system cleaned by Machado - otherwise the outside air is likely to be below State minimum levels!).

    Another great solution to this is “PLANTS”. There are a lot of house plants that add oxygen to room; they filter a large amount of contaminants from carpets, desks and chairs; they also add humidity to space. Human bodies are most comfortable in the 40 - 50% Relative Humidity range. The extra oxygen gives you more energy and thus you can get more done. Plants can improve an office environment immediately and significantly in a number of ways.

  Small Office
 
  • Ugly furniture.

    As soon as you can, get rid of it! There are many places to get nice second hand furniture - especially in this time of economic struggle. Second hand furniture also has the advantage of having already ‘off gassed’ its volatile organic compounds. New furniture can be bought with low VOCs but is much more expensive. If you do spring for new furniture make sure there are plenty of plants in the room to soak up those VOCs.

  • Shampooing the carpets.

    This shocked me! We pay for a janitorial service to dust and vacuum our office - so we’re good, right? Nope, the vacuuming doesn’t pick everything up and it builds up over time. We did a “pat test” on some of our carpets and they failed - miserably. Our solution was to head down to Home Depot and rent a Carpet Shampooer and have a couple of our service techs clean the carpets. The results were pretty dramatic. A professional carpet cleaner will usually tell you to clean the carpets twice a year (probably depends on how much traffic you have in your office) but certainly once a year is needed.

 
  • Lighting.

    There are three types of lighting:

    • General
      Lights the whole room generally.
    • Focused
      Points to area where you work so you have good lighting to see what you are doing.
    • Accent
      To create a feeling of space and to draw attention to something..
  Conference Room
 

I see a lot of offices that only have flat fluorescent lighting that is General lighting being forced into Focused lighting. This can put a “green hue” in the office which is not typically aesthetic. You can, of course, swap the fluorescent tubes for “daylight” tubes - which is a step up, but ideally you could reduce the number of lights for “General Lighting” and add “Focused Lighting”. Adding a bit of “Accent Lighting” adds a touch of class and make a room seem bigger.

And today we have so many more options for lighting than before. There are numerous colors of fluorescent lighting, halogen lights, the old faithful incandescent filament lighting and the new LED lighting. LED lighting also comes in strips that you can change to any one of 16 Million colors! The options of lighting are pretty limitless and can be used to change the feel of a room quite dramatically.

 
  • De-Cluttering.

    This can be a double edged sword, but is definitely worth the effort. After a 'de-clutter' a space usually feels so much brighter and nicer to be in. Less chaos in your environment helps you better focus on the job at hand, but after a while it could seem stark or sterile, so you would then turn to Lighting and or Plants, paint or other ways to improve the aesthetics.

  • Ceiling Tiles

    Replacing broken or stained ceiling titles can improve the smartness of a room.

  Conference Room
 
  • Paint and clean up.

    A fresh coat of paint can brighten most rooms up, or perhaps just some touch-ups on the dings. Even a simple thorough clean up of the walls, doors and the like will make a marked improvement.

 
  • "Hidden" Dirt

    Dirt on the top of bookshelves, cabinets, light fixtures, tops of windows all degrade the air quality of a room and when wiped clean add a perceivable improvement to the room - even though you can’t see on top of the bookshelves. (You can always just mention it to your janitorial provider to get it done.)

  • Sterile look to the office.

    You can fix this with plants, lighting, pictures, fountains, statues - time to get creative.

  • Zombies

    This is an increasing problem that is not given enough attention. Machetes, baseball bats and shot guns are preferred methods but very time consuming on clean up, not to mention an Indoor Air Quality nightmare. Try to think mess containment when dealing with this problem.

  Zombie
 

Why bother?

It improves your colleagues general outlook and tone.
When you improve their general tone they get less sick.
They get more done.
They get a promotion.
Their boss is happier.
The company does better which gives them more job security.
They are nicer to other people.
They are nicer to you.
I might know them and they’ll be nicer to me. AND IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!