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Over the past few weeks, I have been busily preparing for Turnstone’s office move. When we moved in to Waterside House sixteen months ago, there were three of us. Now we have a team of eight and, moves are already afoot for this to be eleven by the back-end of summer.
The move meant looking at office furniture and, boy, isn’t there a lot to choose from?! Now, I’m one of those shoppers that knows what he wants, walks into the shop and two minutes later walks out with the requisite item bagged up and under my arm. The vast choice of office furniture threw me deep into Genesis’ “Land of Confusion”.
Where on earth is this week’s article going? I hear you ask. What has it to do with HR?
Well, once I’d resolved to rationalise the confusion, I realised that there was another issue to consider at this juncture. Jen and Rob, both Directors, suffer from bad backs and they were therefore keen to ensure comfortable chairs with the right degree of lumbar support. Whilst this narrowed down, somewhat, the choice, all of a sudden we were into a higher price bracket.
This got me thinking about the relative values of these chairs and asking myself the question “What price do you put on the health and wellbeing of your staff?”
In these difficult times, it is always tempting to go for the cheapest possible option – whether we are talking chairs, computers or copying paper. But is this always the right thing to do? At this point I had a chat with our soon-to-be Health and Safety Consultant and started thinking about the office from a different angle.
My first thought was that, if my fellow Directors were going to have the more expensive lumbar support chairs, then so the staff should have them, too! And the rationale for this? Well, there are different schools of thought. The more cynical will look at acquiring lumbar support chairs as a means of avoiding potential insurance and disability claims. I say ‘cynical’ but maybe I should use the word ‘realistic’ as there are so many ‘no win, no fee’ lawyers out there these days only too happy to have a pop at employers.
You can, of course, turn this 180 degrees and think about the positive benefits of reduced absenteeism levels in your workplace.
However, for me, it really goes back once again to having respect for your workforce and adopting the adage, ‘if it is good enough for me, it is good enough my staff”.
Of course, not all measures to ensure a safe and comfortable work environment cost money. Making sure that computer monitors are set at the right height and distance is easy and costs nothing. Likewise, think about light, particularly natural light, and how this will impact on individuals. Maybe think about rearranging the desk layout to ensure that sunlight is not reflecting on computer screens or shining directly into a person’s eyes.
My overall advice to you is quite simple. Put a little thought into planning or re-arranging your office. There may be a small price to pay to enhance the work experience for your staff but what price do you put on happy, healthy and productive employees?