If we spend a third of our lives at work, our work environment should help, not harm us.
As we celebrate Labour Day 2019, it seems apt that the plight of the Chinese 996 work culture has come under major scrutiny. Under the 996 phenomenon, young Chinese tech professionals work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 6 days a week. Workers in the industry are bemoaning the hustle as flagrant abuse. What’s more, employees report diminishing returns in productivity. And the longer hours simply don’t pay.
It’s difficult to say that the 996 culture is the norm among Singapore’s workers. However, it’s certain that many of us operate in high stress environments.
As interior designers, we know interiors is an important mitigating factor in managing stress.
Lighting retailer Philips conducted a study to show that the positive correlation between good lighting and productivity. Testing their hypothesis in a factory, researchers found that in addition to a psychological effect, light elicits a direct physical response in our body. The strength and type of light in an interior can boost alertness and even cope with stress. Bright lights trigger alertness; while higher levels of natural light in a room may alleviating stress. Conversely, low level and poor-quality lighting can cause glares and headaches. Unsurprisingly, these reduce productivity and depending on your nature of work, may increase errors or accidents.
Another no-brainer is colour. Warmer colours like red inject life into a space, while cooler tones like blue induce a relaxed ambience.
Even acoustics play a huge role. With the growing popularity of co-working spaces in Singapore, you may need to drown out the incessant chorus of colleagues typing away on a keyboard or tune out of conversations you aren’t invited to be a part of. While sound in and of itself is not distracting, it is unwanted noises which can be a source of irritation. Facility managers should pay close attention to the reverberation in a room so that undesired background noise can be deflected. Investing in sound masking technologies to cancel noises in the office is another option.
If these changes are too much to achieve by your own efforts, opt for these more manageable solutions. For starters, clear the clutter on your desk and swap it out for an indoor desk plant. These are proven to relieve stress. Another option is to regulate the temperature in the room. Have a portable USB desk fan and a jacket on standby. If a room is too hot or cold, productivity levels can dip.
As effective as these commercial interior design tips are, these solutions are merely coping mechanisms. Establishing a healthy work-life should be a priority. Regardless if you spend twelve hours in the office or eight, it’s a good chunk of your day, and ultimately life, spent in a confined environment. You owe it to yourself to have a happy working life.
With that, kick back and relax! If you don’t have an optimal workspace, we sure hope you have a comfy home.
Happy Labour Day!