With a new generation of talent comes new expectations about office life.

Most employers can agree that the workplace environment has been shifting for the last few years. The traditional 9-to-5 job with suits and ties or skirts and heels is changing into a casual, informal environment. Working hours are often starting earlier in most offices to appeal to employees with busy family lives and outside-the-office activities. With the introduction of millennials into the workplace, many companies are thinking strategically about how to make their workplaces more appealing to younger candidates and are considering new ideas and concepts that would have likely been frowned on in the past.

With all of the changes going on, let’s consider some ways to create a more desirable work atmosphere for potential candidates and current employees.

1. Create a more relaxing, comfortable work atmosphere

Companies can start from the top by creating a relaxing, comfortable and modern workspace for their staff. While this isn’t always obtainable due to budget constraints or company size, simple adjustments throughout the office can create a more inviting and welcoming space for potential recruits.

Office cleanliness, workspace location and safety, as well as more natural lighting options, all factor into whether a candidate will want to consider working for a company long-term. Be sure that any windows clean and not obstructed. Add visual relief from a sea of cubicles with group seating options and a small breakroom or kitchen area.

Columbus company CoverMyMeds has broken ground in their office design with options such as an open floor plan, lounges, hideaway locations, standing workstations and a professional kitchen that prepares free lunches. They also have a pool table and a stage in their cafeteria where they have brought in bands during lunch hour for free concerts. They expect a high level of work out of their staff, but ratings from current and past employees regarding the workplace are high, which shows that their efforts have a direct positive effect on morale.

2. Allow pets at work

More and more companies are starting to embrace the love an owner has for his or her pet and are beginning to allow pets in the office. It’s shown that animals can have a direct effect on a person’s mood and morale. By having pets around, you can genuinely create a happier office environment.

 3. Make good use of an outdoor setting for work

Fresh air and sunshine have well-known effects on a person’s health and mental attitude. If you have outdoor space at or near your office, make the most of it by creating a place where staff can work outside on a nice day. Consider patio furniture and outdoor cushions, some greenery, flowers and plants, as well as spaces for shade. Many offices have made use of outdoor patios for lunch cookouts and potlucks during the summer where staff can convene and enjoy the fresh air and exchange ideas.

Western Reserve Land Conservancy, based out of northeastern Ohio, sets the bar high with their use of environmentally friendly and health-conscious measures within the office. They provide their staff with a large rooftop garden patio and regular ground floor garden seating area to work from and relax on during nice days. The siding of their building was even created with recycled tree bark, which creates a gorgeous, natural atmosphere.

4.Provide portable options for working outside of the office

Employees desire flexibility. Giving them the option to work outside the office or at home will show faith in their abilities and work ethic. Laptops and company cell phones are good ways to give them some freedom. As a plus, letting employees work from home will cut down on employees taking days off, as it provides a more flexible option when employees aren’t feeling their best or have to take care of a sick child. As long as the company sets their stipulations on the frequency and expectations of an option like this, everyone should benefit from the arrangement.

5. Make standing desks an option

Sitting all day is still considered one of the leading contributors to health problems later in life. Consider allowing your staff the option of a standing desk in their workspace to facilitate wellness and health-conscious measures in the workplace.

Changes don’t happen overnight, and many companies can’t afford to take on large, expensive projects without seeing the rewards first. If you have to start somewhere, start small. Look for input from existing staff on changes they’d like to see and consider cost-effective ways to accommodate their requests—and be on the lookout for other ways to improve and attract top-notch employees. 

Abbey DeHart is a working mother of two that crunches numbers during the day and blogs by night. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and two kids and writes for Home Depot about DIY projects and home and office improvement.