Every workplace is different, so it’s only natural that every office manager develops a unique combination of techniques and methods to manage their team and office environment. Office perks play a major role in the current hiring competition. A lot of press has been given to things like lunchtime catering, trendy office decor, and bring-your-dog-to-work days. These are often little more than gimmicks. Experienced office managers know that true productivity boosters are often completely invisible to the employees. Your best methods successfully fade into a supportive background environment. Today, we’re here to talk about six subtle ways to improve your office environment. You will have everyone smiling more and working harder without even realizing it.

1) Sound-Absorbing Materials

If your office environment is a large room shared by many workstations, the ambient noise level can get surprisingly oppressive. Even the soft clacking and occasional throat clearing in a ‘quiet’ space can start to grate on nerves. Instead of handing out earplugs, consider quietly replacing some of the cubicle walls, light fixtures, and wall art with sound-absorbing office decor. Reducing the echo and distance sound carries can make a real difference.

2) White Noise

Once you’ve brought down the ambient noise, the next question is how to fill the silence. Unless your team is unusually unified in its musical tastes, it’s often difficult to find a radio station or playlist that works for everyone. This is why many office managers are turning to white noise. This removes the odd discomfort caused by silence without adding distraction to the workspace. Consider soft ocean whooshing, leaves rustling in a breeze, or possibly a little inoffensive flute and strings.

3) Natural Light

The best way to light an office has been a long-standing debate for office managers. It’s been found that bright lights cause headaches. This can reduce productivity while dim lights cause relaxation which can also reduce productivity. The current best solution is to provide plenty of natural light by opening up the blinds or making use of skylights. However, if you’re dealing with a complete interior room or one with insufficient windows, look for lights that simulate natural light with a clever choice of ceiling bulbs and lamps.

4) Foot Traffic Management

Many professionals are overwhelmingly distracted by people constantly walking past their desk or workspace. It can be hard to concentrate if your desk is near the restrooms, break room, or placed between any two popular office locations. This results in high foot traffic. Consider rearranging your office so that high traffic paths are clearly separated from workstations. Simple dividers and a subtly ergonomic floorplan can help to isolate your focus-challenged employees from the distractions of visits to the water cooler or elevators.

5) Ergonomic Chairs

Every professional knows that the quality of your work can often be determined by the quality of your chair. A chair that hurts, creaks, or slowly causes discomfort will also cause distractions and falling morale. If you’re constantly hearing either squeaky chairs or complaints about back, shoulder, and neck pain, consider surprising your team with ergonomic chairs one Monday morning.

Bonus Tip: If you want to be a real super-star, ask around to discover if any of your employees have special chair needs. This could be chairs that accommodate a specific back problem or very short professionals for whom normal ergonomic chairs won’t fit their frame.

6) Carpets and Fatigue Mats

Finally, you might be surprised to discover just how much of a role office carpet quality can play in a satisfactory office environment. When employees see and walk on a thin dingy carpet, the entire office feels lower quality. Even if you don’t fully replace the carpet, consider a twice-yearly steam cleaning. This will refresh and fluff what you have and lay down comfortable fatigue mats and runners. These will both dampen the thump of footsteps and ease foot, knee, and hip problems among employees who walk and stand as part of their job.

Being a great office manager is all about keeping track of the little things. There are hundreds of hacks out there to increase productivity from apps to Friday meetings. You can make a big difference without changing anything about the workflow by subtly improving the office itself. Just a few of these little changes can boost morale in a way few will even realize to be the result of your clever efforts.