Creating an Energizing Work Environment

Providing an Inspiring Place to Work


Bryan has just arrived at work, and he's pleased to be there. Not only does he love his job, but he also likes being at work, because it's an energizing, positive place to be.

The lighting is natural and bright, the layout encourages productive conversation and creative brainstorming, and his boss and colleagues are positive, helpful, and enjoyable to be around. Put simply, it feels good to be there.

Have you ever worked in an office like this? If so, then you already know what a dramatic difference this can make for you, and for the attitude of everyone that you work with.

In this article, we'll look at why it's worth making the effort to create an energized, positive work environment. We'll also examine what you can do to refresh your team's work space.

Creating a more energized workplace can help to inspire and invigorate your people.

Why Create an Energizing Work Environment?

When your work space is inviting, energizing, and fun, it's easy for people to bring their "hearts and souls" to work. They're more engaged, inspired, productive, and committed. And, because people want to be in the office, you'll experience less absenteeism and job turnover. It's a win-win for everyone.

An energized work environment doesn't solely depend on office layout and color. While the physical environment does have an impact, a number of other factors also affect energy levels. These factors include the quality of people's relationships, organizational culture, and leadership.

Creating an energizing work environment can benefit almost all groups of professionals, especially knowledge workers and those doing creative work. However, you may have to think about other considerations as well. For example, your organization might need to adhere to strict design or layout standards for safety or health reasons. If clients or customers come into your organization regularly, it's also important to consider their needs and expectations.

How to Energize Your Workplace

So how can you create and maintain an energizing work space?

Use the strategies and tips below to add energy and life to your work environment.

Start With Yourself

First, look at your own attitude and energy levels: a leader's energy directly influences employees' energy levels, which then affects their level of performance, especially with creative work.

As a leader, you set the tone for the rest of your team, and when you come to work energized and positive, your team will often mirror this. Learn how to manage your emotions at work, so that even when you're not feeling your best, your team members see you as a positive, inspiring leader.

Also, pay attention to the ratio of positive to negative interactions that you have with your team members. The Losada Ratio suggests that you have at least three positive interactions for every negative interaction. Although the statistics behind the model are in doubt now, the general principle is not, so ask your team members to try applying it too.

Encourage Relationship Building

Excellent interpersonal relationships are fundamentally important in developing a positive, uplifting work environment. When relationships are good, employees feel positive. This, in turn, affects energy in the office, and enhances job performance.

You can do several things to help people build good work relationships. First, show your appreciation for people on your team, and encourage others to do this too. Say "thank you" when someone offers you a helping hand, or performs a task well. A little appreciation will go a long way!

Also, pay attention to the people around you. If you notice that a colleague or team member is stressed or feeling down, ask how you can help. Even taking a few minutes to lend a listening ear will show your concern.

Keep in mind that your team members likely have varying needs and priorities when it comes to their work relationships. Some people feel energized when they can be in charge, while others feel good when they feel liked and included.

Make sure that you know how to manage team conflict, too – some conflict is healthy in high-performing teams, but it can damage relationships if it gets out of hand, or if it gets personal.

Pay Attention to Decor

Next, take a look at your office's decor. Is the atmosphere bright, energetic, and inviting? Or is it drab and depressing?

First, consider using bright colors such as orange, red, or yellow as part of the decorative scheme for hallways and meeting rooms; these colors promote energy and focus. Open blinds and curtains to let in plenty of natural light. If lighting is dim, switch to bulbs that mimic natural light, and make sure that everyone has a bright lamp on his or her desk.

Also put plants in and around your work space. One study found that indoor plants helped reduce fatigue by up to 37 percent. Another found that when indoor plants were brought in to a windowless office environment, workers were more productive, less stressed, and more attentive.

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Think About Office Layout

Office or cubicle layout is also an important factor in creating an energizing environment.

Many organizations use an open office layout to promote face-to-face communication and good relationships. However, an open layout can increase stress, lower job satisfaction, and harm productivity. These negative effects are primarily due to visual distraction, background noise, and privacy loss. So, consider using extra partitioning in these types of offices, if appropriate.

Also think about how your team members interact away from their desks. For instance, brainstorming and knowledge sharing may often take place in hallways, break rooms, kitchens, or empty corners. So, encourage your team members to use these spaces for informal meetings or brainstorming sessions. Make these areas as inviting as possible by arranging comfortable chairs, providing whiteboards, adding plants, and displaying inspiring artwork.

Consider Organizational Culture

Your organization's culture influences how your workplace feels. Organizations with positive, uplifting cultures are naturally going to have a positive, energized work space, while the opposite is true of organizations with negative, stifling cultures.

Use tools such as Deal and Kennedy's Cultural Model and the Competing Values Framework to analyze your organization's culture. When you identify the type of culture you're in, you can use this information as a starting point for making positive changes, where they are needed.

Use Music

Another way to energize your work environment is to let your team members listen to personal music while they work (if they want to, and if this is appropriate for the work that they do).

As well as music being energizing in itself, one study found that people who listen to music at work often experience more inspiration, better concentration, and less stress than those who didn't.

Tip 1:

Non-distracting music, such as instrumental, ambient, or classical music, is often best. You can also listen to "white noise" or "grey noise" – such as the sound of waves or a waterfall.

Tip 2:

Ask people who do listen to music to use headphones so that they don't disturb their colleagues.

Provide a Healthy Workplace

Make sure that you provide a healthy workplace. The air should be clean and safe, the office should be tidy and organized, and your team should have comfortable, ergonomically designed work spaces. Ergonomic design not only improves the work environment but leads to higher productivity and greater comfort.

Ask for Feedback

Last, ask for feedback from your team members about their work spaces.

What would they like to see changed? What would make the office more energizing for them? You might be surprised at the ideas they come up with.

Key Points

There are many advantages of creating an energizing work environment. For instance, it can improve productivity and morale, decrease absenteeism and staff turnover, and increase collaboration.

To create an energizing work space, start by coming to work energized and with a positive attitude. Next, work on strengthening relationships between team members.

You should also enrich your team's physical surroundings by improving lighting and changing paint colors to make the atmosphere bright and welcoming. And, you can bring in plenty of plants.

Creating an energizing work environment doesn't have to be an expensive undertaking; many small changes can make a positive difference for you and your team.

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Comments (3)
  • Over a month ago Yolande wrote
    Hi all

    I agree that this is a great article.

    Peta, it's a pity that some employers take the route of a clinically clean desk. I understand all the stuff about organisational culture etc., but what they seem to forget is that it's people who do the work - and not work who does people. If the people doing the work aren't in an environment that inspires them and where they can thrive, then it's the employer's bottom-line that is affected. But maybe, if they don't get that they work with people, then they deserve their bottom line being affected negatively.

    I'm glad to hear that it's becoming a bit more relaxed again in your workplace. And I totally get the thing with flowers. There are few things that can cheer me up as quickly as a beautiful bunch of flowers and I always have flowers in the office and at home. Just to cheer up this space... here's a flower for you.

    Kind regards
  • Over a month ago peta_crowe wrote
    Our office was a happy and inviting place to be, people were encourgaed to personalise their workspace and there were lots of little "gathering" spots for us to collaborate. We would hand balloons above someones desk for their birthday.
    That is until we had a new 'clean desk policy' and this literally meant there was nothing on our desks except our computers and our phones. All personal photos and items were to be taken away; we were not allowed notes or memo's to be posted in our cubicles. It was amazing to see how quickly the morale dropped and people's attitudes change at work.
    We have gone back to a more relaxed atmosphere now, it is not exactly as lax as it was before but we are getting there. For me personally; I buy myself a fresh bunch of flowers on my way into work on Monday and they sit brightly and happily on my desk. Not only does it make me smile through the week but I always get compliments from people who walk past about the colour, the cheer, the fragance. It is the little things we do that can make such a huge difference not only for ourselves but for our colleagues too.

    - Peta -
  • Over a month ago Midgie wrote
    What a fantastic article, I just wish more employers would incorporate some of the points made to create better, more positive and more energized work places!

    It is not just the work that impacts on individual's ability to perform at their best, it is the environment and the attitude of others! Small things can make such a big difference!

    I recall one employer whereby the boss would occasionally let an employee out early on a sunny day. It wasn't an entire afternoon, however it was an hour or so. These unexpected little 'treats' were really appreciated by the team and meant that we all worked that much 'harder' so we get those rewards.

    Have you worked in a positive and energized workplace? And, what sorts of things made a difference to you?