Furnishing and equipping an office is not as simple as choosing and installing the items you think look the best and offer the right functions for your business. If you employ people, their needs must be paramount, especially when it comes to their physical health and mental well-being. Here are some things to consider to keep your employees safe and happy at work.
Desks and chairs
Desks set at the wrong height or chairs that fail to offer adequate support are a common cause for bad backs and other aches and pains that lead to sick days and unhappy employees. Make sure your office furniture is sturdy enough and shaped correctly to offer the right support for employees who often spend many hours sitting at them. A health and safety expert will be able to advise on the type of furniture required, and any extra support needs, such as footrests or memory foam cushions that could ease an employee’s physical difficulties. This is especially important for employees who are pregnant, recovering from illness or surgery, or who have a longer-term physical disability.
Ventilation and air quality
Smaller areas, such as storage cupboards and cloakrooms must be properly ventilated, as should photocopying areas to prevent staff with asthma or other respiratory issues from becoming ill. There should be provision to open windows or turn on air conditioning in stuffy weather conditions too, and fans provided for additional comfort during a period of extreme heat. Make sure the temperature in the office is not too hot or too cold for legal working conditions and keep the area dust-free and well vacuumed to cut down on allergens.
Reception and public areas
Reception should be managed by staff who have received appropriate training in visitor management and emergency procedures. Just as in the main office area, desks and chairs must be set at the appropriate height to avoid injuries, aches and pains, breakout furniture is ideal in public areas as it can encourage conversation between colleagues. Adequate lighting will prevent eye strain and noise levels must be kept to a minimum for both staff and visitor comfort. Keep walkways free from obstructions and avoid towering piles of papers or boxes that can fall and injure someone walking past. Where relevant, security screens and furniture fixed to the floor can further safeguard reception staff likely to encounter aggressive members of the public.
Leisure and kitchen facilities
Offices tend to include areas for downtime and breaks, such as a kitchen for making drinks and snacks, or a common room with vending machines and so forth. All electrical equipment must be regularly tested by law and presented in good working order. There must be a sink and water supply to clean crockery, mugs and glasses and employees will also appreciate basic kitchen appliances, such as kettles, toasters, fridges, dishwashers and microwave ovens. Watch for trailing flexes, food and drink spillages and unsteady tables or stacks of mugs that could topple over.