Reduce the Stress: Four Elements to Consider in a Modern Office Design

Employees sitting around conference table
In an effort to attract millennials, many companies are looking to incorporate features to improve workplace engagement and decrease stress. It’s an ongoing challenge for many employers, with studies showing less than one out of three millennials being engaged at work. Moreover, workplaces that are designed to be visually appealing can contribute to employee trust and performance.

The more famous examples of relaxation areas in the workplace tend to come from Silicon Valley, where tech companies are known to provide their employees with game rooms, indoor gardens and even in-house bowling alleys. But even if these sorts of perks are out of scope for your project – and they almost certainly are – there are a number of things that you can do when designing your new office workspace to generate a more pleasant working atmosphere.

  • Use natural materials such as wood and stone rather than concrete and laminates. This, plus the use of cool colors and attractive details, is shown to increase creativity.
  • Include indoor plants and/or views of greenery. Exposure to nature can help lower heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol, a stress hormone. Workplace greenery is also shown to improve perceptions of air quality, concentration, productivity and satisfaction.
  • You may not have the budget for a Silicon Valley-style lounge for your employees – after all, very few companies do – but you may very well be able to set aside an area for a relaxation space. Properly outfitted with relaxing furniture and good acoustics, this can give employees a place to control noise and distraction.
  • Put some thought into the visibility and the visuals. Appropriate lighting levels, access to pleasant views such as art and outdoor scenery, and feature installations such as fireplaces have been shown to have highly positive effects on an office environment.

There are additional steps that designers can take, such as selecting the right kind of technology furniture to empower employees to work most effectively.

Putting together a pleasant office environment conducive to creativity can take a good deal of effort, but should pay for itself in short order.

(Source: The Conversation)

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Happy New Year from SMARTdesks!

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Thank you so very much for helping us have a fantastic year. On behalf of the entire SMARTdesks family, have a happy holiday!

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K12 IT Administrators Rethinking Chromebooks After Crash?

Widespread bug crashed thousands of Chromebooks in K12 districts

Chromebook becomes Stonebook without internet access

Google Chrome OS long seemed like a solution looking for a problem. In a world dominated by Microsoft and Apple, it was hard to find a purpose for a lightweight platform that was mostly for basic applications like word processing and spreadsheet usage – and an OS that required internet access to function.

Then K12 came calling. Chromebooks – lightweight, durable, cheaper than their Apple and Microsoft alternatives – caught on with school districts looking for a suitable vehicle as 1:1 programs took on steam. However, school districts across America got a wake-up call on the potential hazards of putting all their eggs in Google’s basket when a network policy update pushed by the search giant’s administrators caused devices to temporarily lose internet connectivity. This would be a headache for any notebook computer, of course, but in a Chromebook environment, this is mission critical: without internet access, a Chromebook becomes a paperweight.

Google won’t say how many users were affected, but one school district alone believes that all 20,000 devices in its network were impacted. The issue was fixed on the same day, and Google posted a series of steps that districts could take to solve the problem. But many IT professionals are now concerned, especially if Google pushes a major update that isn’t rolled back easily.

As school districts seek to facilitate active learning, they turn to Silicon Valley in ever greater numbers seeking to adopt the right technology. But even mighty Google isn’t immune to technical difficulties.

(Source: EdSurge)

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Survey: Pretty Much Every Student Wants to Use Smartphones in Class

Student with smartphone in class

Phoning it in? Not really.

A recent study is unlikely to surprise college professors: 94% of college students want to use their mobile phones in class for academic purposes. The survey found that a substantial number of students (58%) use their phones to take pictures of lecture slides, and similarly high percentages of students also use their phones to search for information on Google or access a digital textbook during lectures.

Students also indicated their willingness to use the phones more often for a range of classroom activities, including checking into class, answering in-class polls, and accessing lecture slides. (For some mobile classroom polling alternatives, check out this blog post from November.)

However, the risks of mobile phones being nothing more than a distraction are obvious. Half of students admitted to using phones to text friends or check social media during class.

Smartphones aren’t going away, of course, so administrators and professors need to think about ways to leverage the opportunity while minimizing the potential for distraction. Having the right kind of active learning furniture may also help.

(Source: Campus Technology)

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