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Your colleague comes into work, bleary-eyed, red-nosed, sneezing every five minutes and leaving a trail of tissues in their path. They look proud that they have braved their hideous cold and made it into work.

Their boss will be pleased and they won't tally up any sick days, they think, as they let out a record-worthy sneeze.

The thing is, everyone around isn't so keen on spending the day with a walking advert for Lemsip. And with every other minute taken up with dealing with nose issues, is the flu-ridden person actually going to get much done?

Present but not correct 

New research shows that a rise in presenteeism - turning up for work while sick - is impacting productivity levels at work. In 2013 nearly two in three employees have attending work while feeling ill, with productivity dropping from 75% on a 'normal' day to 55% on a sick one.

The study by business psychology company Robertson Cooper also found that people are experiencing new forms of stress in the workplace, with the top concern being not having enough time to do their job.  As well as this, a CBI report has reported that stress remains the top cause of long-term absence.

Amid these tensions, there are some great stress-busting office design tips to help employees cope with the pressures they face.

1.    Make it ergonomic:

Office chairs have come miles from static four-legged plastic models. Invest in quality chairs that are designed to maximise productivity by reducing fatigue and discomfort. Also make it possible to adjust the angle of the keyboard and the height of the monitor so as to suit each employee.

2.    Let there be light:

Incorporate full-spectrum lighting that mimics sunlight and replaces those fluorescent lights that cause headaches. Allow as much natural light in too; choosing blinds that can reduce glare without shutting the office off from the world.

3.    Add some life:

Plants are a great way to brighten up a workspace but there are health benefits too - they can remove pollutants from the air while adding oxygen to the indoor air.

4.    Keep it fresh:

Ensure that there's fresh air circulating in the office to prevent the build-up and spread of germs and bacteria. Having an employee turn up sick to work will spread in no time without enough circulation, which could turn into a serious blow to your workforce productivity.

5.    Promote the lunch break:

Too often are lunches eaten over desks, with anyone actually leaving the office for an hour receiving frowns from others. But no matter how driven your employees, they need to take at least one break during the day. Provide a cafe or chill-out area where they can eat, socialise and relieve stress.

6.    Get them moving:

Office gyms are hugely handy, giving employees the ability to either go before, during or after work. Exercise is a number one stress-reliever and makes for happy, healthy staff. To keep employees happy and healthy, a pleasant working environment is a must. Why not try these simple steps to reduce presenteeism and ease stress across the company?

- by Guenaelle Watson

Want to find out more about how workplace design can reduce stress and improve your office environment? Contact the team by completing the form at the top of the page.

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