Planning your office space can minimize office stressWhat can you do to make your office space more productive and reduce the stress level for you and your employees? We reviewed through tips that we had previously written about, and looked to the internet for more ideas. You will be surprised how many are common-sense ideas that many do not even consider.

1. Forget about 9 to 5 for you and your employees. Nothing helps reduce stress more than setting your own hours. Staggering hours to avoid commuter rush periods can really help you get the day started. With some employees starting earlier and leaving earlier and others starting later and leaving later, work gets done and you have a happier workplace overall.

2. Take your meeting for a walk! As we mentioned in our series on the negative effects of sitting and the potential health risks of sedentary working conditions, one of the best ways to counteract this is to conduct a standing meeting. So with summer here and great outdoor weather, why not conduct a walk-and-talk meeting. Besides, the fresh air is also a great way to get some exercise and break up a day of sitting at a desk.

3. Green up your office space with non-flowering plants. Not only are plants great for improving air quality, they also apparently help reduce blood pressure! Let employees share in the responsibility of taking care of the plants and give them a special break time to focus on feeding, watering and pruning the plants. Taking care of the plants will also give them a mental break and help them regain focus and attention to their work.

4. What smells good to some, might not to others. More and more office spaces and work environments are becoming scent-free zones. While most people think that scent-free only pertains to perfumes and colognes, it also applies to food smells. Discouraging employees from eating at their desk is not only good for keeping the food smells out of the office, it also encourages them to get up and walk to a lunch room or cafeteria (even that much walking is also better for them).

5. Better lighting improves moods. Experts claim that the more natural the lighting, the more happy and productive an employee will be. Giving every employee a window office is not practical and bringing natural lighting into interior offices is not always possible. But finding creative ways of bringing indirect daylight or simulated sunlight is. With a quick Google search, you will find several ways of improving lighting in your office space.

6. Make sure everyone has personal space. When you overcrowd people and do not give them some personal space, they tend to get stressed out. When you plan your office space, don’t just plan for maximum office space usage; plan it with comfort and personal space in mind.

7. Ditch the cheap office chairs. Chairs that cause discomfort (or even repetitive strain injuries) can also cause stress and decreased productivity. Having quality office chairs that are comfortable and provide good back support will reduce discomfort and stress, as well as the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

8. Forced Breaks. You see it all the time…..people working through what should be break times. Working harder and not taking breaks is not working smarter and more productively. When people take short breaks in the middle of the day, they work better for the whole day because they have taken some time to recharge.

9. Taking a nap is not always a bad thing. Some companies even encourage it! Large companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, not only enable staff members to take a short nap each day, they facilitate and encourage it. Just like breaks, companies are noticing the increased productivity when employees take a 10-minute or 15-minute nap and then return to work.

10. Have and enforce quiet zones in your office. Designating quiet zones for workers to get away from ambient noise and other loud and annoying office distractions can not only relieve stress, but can provide a space for employees to relax, unwind and re-invigorate.