7 Design Tips to Combat Employee Boredom in the Office

Ho-hum. 

Being bored is normal. We all know the feeling.

Suffice it to say, we’ve all had moments – maybe an hour, a few days or weeks – where boredom at work hit us hard. This disinterested state in your surroundings (and in life) can be upsetting, aggravated further by all the social limitations we have today. 

Boredom in the workplace does not discriminate, anyone can feel this; moreso for mid-career professionals or those overqualified for their positions. Based on current statistics, it is most likely true that around 43% to 53% of your colleagues or employees are bored right now. 

You read that right. 

Contrary to popular belief, boredom arises not because of the lack of things to do, but rather, it goes to a deeper level. Boredom stems from being uninspired, unmotivated, or unchallenged. At work, this negative and downright ‘lifeless’ situation and circumstance leads to disengagement, mistakes and missed opportunities. 

Consequently, there is a cost to boredom – monetary, yes. But it is also one of the top reasons why employees would quit and look for another opportunity. 

Photo source: Pexels | Eunice Lui

Now then, how do we eliminate, or at least reduce boredom in the office?

Read on. We’ll show you some quick, creative design tips you can easily implement in your workplace to keep employees engaged, productive and simply, not bored. 

1. Cut out a creative corner

When employees get in a slump, they may need a little something to stimulate their minds and get those juices flowing again. It is common to have blank corners in an office, or areas that are forgotten and underutilized. 

If your office has this extra bit of space, switch it up and turn it into a creative corner by throwing in some bean bags, small desks and using pops of color. Transform the wall into a giant idea generator where employees are encouraged to ask questions and jot down or post up random ideas. Of course, these should all be respectful and in line with work (even only tangentially).

Bored employees can bring their teams here at dire times when they have to drag their feet to finish rather urgent matters. This inviting corner can be located in different areas of the office and all departments are welcome to pitch in ideas, or to check some for inspiration. 

Photo source: Pexels | Pew Nguyen

2. Inject some fun with a game area

Most adults have this hidden ‘kid at heart’ side of themselves that will always enjoy new toys and games. Allotting space for games is definitely not the priority for most companies when designing the workplace. 

But this enjoyable area might just positively contribute to a company’s bottom line. A few minutes playing around will not only eliminate boredom, refresh employees and relieve stress, there are several other benefits too. 

A game area in the workplace is a creative solution to break down boundaries and encourage interactions that go beyond work. It facilitates communication, bonding, teamwork and serves as an ice-breaker to get to know each other better. And finally, it fosters a stronger sense of community.

Photo source: Pinterest

Including a game area in the office need not consume a significant amount of space.

There are several arcade machines like pinball, pacman, or claw machines that can easily fit beside an empty wall, in a small corner or somewhere in the pantry. Other gaming options include game consoles like Playstation, Wii or a couple of Nintendo Switch(es). These can also be placed in the creative corner or collaborative spaces.

If you are looking for something simpler, board games and card games will do the trick. Or, if you can afford to include something even bigger, go all out with a foosball table, basketball hoops, those car racing games in arcades or even table tennis or mini golf!

Photo source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko

3. Outdoor space and nature

In this built environment, urbanites crave to reconnect with nature in every way they can. Visual appeal of the work environment is magnified with a generous amount of natural elements – like sunlight, greenery, indoor plants. And this is a growing aspect that attracts talent and boosts employee satisfaction.

Bringing the workplace outside and giving employees multiple options and opportunities to get off their desks and go out is gaining popularity. Having this environmental change and reconnecting with the natural world not only removes boredom but also leads to reduced stress, higher productivity, creativity and boosts employees’ wellbeing and happiness. 

Getting more sunlight, a good dose of fresh air, and stimulating the senses with biodiversity and randomness of the outside world can decompress the mind and allow new ideas to flow. 

An outdoor office space is not about trying to escape the confines of the indoor workplace, but rather to give employees spatial choices. A healthy work environment should be able to provide comfortable and diverse work environments that will suit the needs and preferences of employees at different moments. 

Photo source: Fast Company

If getting that outdoor space is not possible, there are two easy alternatives – indoor plants and views.

Bring the outdoors in using indoor plants and elevate your office design through an affordable yet worthwhile investment. But more than its aesthetic benefits, there are other major positive benefits of indoor plants such as reducing stress, boosting productivity and creativity and absorb distracting office chatter. 

Give your employees generous views of the outdoors with large windows and desks positioned near them. This refreshes the mind and allows a lovely amount of natural light indoors which has other positive impacts on energy and productivity too.

Photo source: Unsplash | CoWomen

4. Comfortable, well-stocked pantry

Many people who get bored, sleep it off; while there are others who look for something to eat. You may not think much when it comes to designing your office pantry but it is something that many employees value. 

A well-designed and well-stocked office pantry is more than just a source of nutrition and a push towards a healthier lifestyle. It directly impacts employee morale and company image. 

In today’s working world where common spaces foster collaboration, interaction and communication, more companies look to optimize the design of their office spaces to give this to employees. And the pantry is an ideal area for relaxation and to get together. 

If you give away free, healthy foods and beverages, employees will naturally be happy. They also don’t need to go far to get refreshed and reenergized. An inviting workplace pantry can simultaneously create a positive work culture that boosts employee productivity, morale, job satisfaction and gives a stronger feeling of inclusivity. 

Photo source: Unsplash

5. Always have collaborative spaces

Human beings are social creatures that require cooperation, collaboration and interactions to thrive and survive. In today’s world of technology and constant digital stimulation, there is a growing appreciation for face-to-face, real human connection. This is also why, in recent years, co-working spaces are much preferred with still growing popularity. 

In a co-working, open space, there is diversity in the people in terms of industries, companies, ventures and projects. Unlike the traditional office design, collaborative spaces allow employees to thrive because the walls are down, literally. 

Photo source: Unsplash | Andrea Davis

No heroic efforts are needed to create collaborative spaces in your office. There are two types – formal meeting rooms, or informal spaces for that casual, relaxed vibe.

Keep it flexible to accommodate different activities. Tailor it to your industry, business and team so it reaches its full potential. Bring in ergonomic chairs, use some color on the flooring, walls or furniture, have large tables and writable surfaces. And lastly, comfort is of utmost importance to make people want to spend time in that area in the first place and create that culture. 

True collaboration is achieved because discussion comes naturally, new ideas are not forced, interaction is welcomed between departments – thus, reducing the possibility of boredom.

Photo source: Unsplash | Croissant

6. Private sanctuaries for some ‘alone’ time

Although the open office design is appreciated by many, there are times when we need our alone time to concentrate and minimize distractions. 

An office should be a complete space that allows a balance of collaboration, relaxation and private holes. Following one principle of biophilic design, sometimes, people also look for a perceived feeling of security and protection in a space. 

Photo source: Unsplash | Andrea Davis

This is not difficult to carry out because these perceived private sanctuaries are singular spots in larger spaces. So, you can place an enveloping chair (or chairs) on the perimeters of a larger space for solitary spaces where employees can work alone without losing sight of the larger collaborative area. 

Giving this chance to collaborate and to work individually supplies employees with different choices based on their current needs to finish certain tasks. 

Photo source: Unsplash | Uneebo Office Design

A monotonous and lifeless workplace affects employee morale and satisfaction. Going to work in a modern office space and building may be cool but sometimes, it tends to become sterile and dull, especially when all the colors you see are white, grey/steel, or black. 

According to Dr. Harriet Shortt, an expert on workplace environment: “These findings prove that artwork makes workers feel happier, more peaceful and more creative, and are a call to action for many organizations to reconsider the bland bare walls that surround their workforce. This isn’t just about making our workplace walls more attractive or having art for art’s sake; this is about helping our workforces become more reflective, imaginative and inventive.”

There are a few ways to infuse some art into the office. The reception area and hallways are the most common places to put an artwork or two to welcome guests, create a positive impression with clients or just to have something to admire.

Photo source: Unsplash | Jason Briscoe

But don’t stop there. 

If the office is filled with bare walls, you can transform some into a gallery wall or an interactive wall to generate random ideas and thoughts. Otherwise, there are other more direct ways, and that is to display artwork – paintings, sculptures, large decor, photography or wallpaper to brighten and enliven the space. 

You can position this alongside a company bulletin board that displays fun updates about work for that continuous flow of large, attention-grabbing elements to hold employee attention for more than a few seconds.

Want to up the ante a bit? Go for a few accent furniture pieces that are art pieces on their own and combine functionality with art.

Quick tip: art can also come in the form of decorative, green walls (which jive well with point #3 above).

Photo source: Unsplash | Uneebo Office Design

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