Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a five-stage model depicting human needs. It emphasises ‘Physiological Needs’ (Stage 1) as the base of our motivation and a prerequisite to achieve fulfilment of ‘Psychological Needs’ (Stage 5). Satisfaction of our physiological needs play a direct impact on our everyday e.g., sustenance, shelter, and warmth. This theory applies to every aspect of a person’s life experience. With that said, we clock in an average of 45 hours per week at work making the office a space we spend a sizeable portion of our lives at. Let’s dive in to understand where our physiological needs at work lie and how it plays a role in our experience of work pleasure and productivity.
As living creatures, we are naturally powered by light i.e., the sun as our source of energy. Similarly, workplace lighting effects one’s energy levels and productivity which can affect our day-to-day output. Improper lighting can influence stress levels, cause headaches and feelings of fatigue, and strain the eyes. Choosing the correct lighting depends on the type of work your company does to create a suitable environment for optimum comfort and focus. Malaysia’s Guidelines on Occupational Safety & Health in the Office (1996) encourages natural lighting be accessible to employees wherever possible and that artificial lighting must be comfortable to the eyes. Cool blue or cool white lighting supports alertness and concentration. Warm yellow or warm orange suits times of relaxation and unwinding. To have areas where both types of lighting are accessible would allow your team a balance throughout their day in between working hours.
Have you noticed how temperatures can also affect our mood & performance? For some of us, the cold can be just as infuriating as the heat. Experiencing shivers and perspiration can get in the way of staying focused on the task at hand when our bodies are busy reminding us of the temperature, which takes up valuable energy. According to Malaysia’s Guidelines on Occupational Safety & Health in the Office (1996), the recommended workplace temperature should be maintained between 20–26 degrees Celsius to support optimum comfort and performance. Even so, teams must take into consideration the placement or location of their respective desks or areas. Naturally, those seated closer to windows will feel warmer compared to those seated directly under air-conditioning vents. In these cases, it would be valuable for leaders to organise their respective teams based on their comfort or preference. Although this may take additional effort, it isn’t impossible. Your team will thank you for it!
Everyone who spends their day working at a desk would agree office chairs and tables are vital equipment in supporting comfort and productivity at work. Ergonomic furniture supports posture, circulation, and energy consumption for the duration that we stay seated (or standing) at our desks and tables. This plays a direct role in the quality of our daily output. Without ergonomically designed furniture, we (or employers) put long-term health at risk. Some rising trends in ergonomic furniture include footrests and adjustable desks that allow us to find and maintain comfort during working hours, reducing physical distractions such as the frequency of getting up to stretch and move about or even the need to complain about our aches and pains! Even so, we mustn’t encourage our colleagues to fall into a sedentary lifestyle! This leads us to our next point.
An average Malaysian employee spends about 9 hours a day at work. That’s over 2,300 hours each year. A recent study by UCSI Poll Research Centre found that six out of 10 respondents were displeased with their work environment, culture, and habits. Any efforts to improve this cannot dismiss that comfort and performance go hand-in-hand in workplace pleasure and productivity.
Allowing people to attend to their individual needs and achieve their personal level of comfort influences their mood and performance throughout the day.
Some companies go as far as to offer daily free meals, subsidised healthcare, including monetary means such as allowances, bonuses, and salary increments to retain their employees. Such offers are without a doubt great incentives but workplace comfort should not be overlooked.
Circling back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s safe to say that being able to find comfort at work is GREAT for both employers and employees – and all roles in between – because our psychological needs (productivity & fulfilment) highly depend on our physiological needs (safety & comfort). Establishing the correct lighting and temperature, choosing ergonomic office furniture, managing surrounding noise, and having complete autonomy to all points listed adds to overall job satisfaction. Stress is a given in any line of work but being able to have a safe space for one to retreat to makes all the difference in our experience of and at work.
If you’re looking to make these upgrades in your workspace, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for integrated workplace solutions your team will surely appreciate! We would be delighted to help you get started.
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