If you work full time you often spend a majority of your waking time in the office during a typical week, the last thing you want to be doing is working in a workplace that doesn't offer you a great environment. If you're currently in a less than desirable environment, it may well be worth speaking to your boss about changes you'd like to see because it's in their interest to keep employees content.
Here are some of the things which can improve your work environment (often with little cost);
Make the time to say hello to your colleagues. It seems like an obvious thing which would happen naturally, but sometimes when people are naturally busy or a little bit stressed they will not do the basics. Having those few moments where you say hello and ask how they are goes a long way in a) making that person feeling appreciated and b) opens up potential for further communication. Also, because you've initiated (hopefully genuine) communication, you become more approachable.
Setting Personal Goals
You spend a lot of time at work not to get anything out of it. Sure, you're ultimately there to do the boss's work, but that doesn't mean it can't be a mutually beneficial experience. Setting yourself personal objectives and goals is a great way of staying motivated during the harder times. Happier workplaces tend to be the ones which recognise it's a partnership between employer and employers rather than a master/slave or factory relationship.
Many jobs don't really require you to be at your desk from 9am - 5:30pm. Obviously this is going to depend on the type of role you do, but many jobs can have a leeway of independence from other workers. Being able to work flexibly can both benefit the employee and the employer. Giving a bit more freedom to the employee means that they are able to balance work and life more easily. The benefit to the employer is that the employee will be at work when they're more in the mindset to work. Unfortunately, not all managers are adaptable either to trust their employees or to have the foresight to understand that flexible working can bring many benefits.
One step beyond flexible working is working from home. Working from home can offer so many benefits. I generally prefer to be in the office however there are times when I just need to get my head down and be completely focused without distraction. That said, collaboration when working from home is not impossible. Given how much technology has improved over the years, video and audio calls are a quick and easy way to have a catch up on a project. Working from home also allows you, for example, to have the boiler repaired or have a new washing machine delivered. This means you're still benefiting from the employee being at work rather than having to take the time off begrudgingly and the employee knowing when they do take that day off they'll be doing something nice with it.
Having a laugh
Obviously there is somewhat of a limit on how much you should get distracted by having a laugh, but happy employees are the ones who appear to be the hardest working. Laughing is a good way of communicating and communicating on the same wavelength. Laughing can relieve stress and reducing tension in a hostile conversation. Laughing is proven to be a positive and powerful health benefit and is an antidote to stress, pain, and conflict.
Step away from your desk once in a while, and definitely at lunch time!
We should not be sitting for as long as we do during the day, it's good to get up and move. Not only does this promote good health, but it can allow us to communicate to others while we're standing. A great time to get away from your desk is at lunchtime. So often I see people sitting at their desks, and occasionally I've done this, but it's not good for us to be stuck behind a screen for so long everyday. Eating can be a great social experience, admittedly, sometimes we don't want to be interrupted at lunch. Going for a walk at lunch time is beneficial for our cardiovascular system. A 10 minute walk can boost energy, clear your head and lift your mood. It can help with lower back pain and those at risk of high blood pressure. It has also been suggested that it can help reduce the risk of heart disease and type two diabetes.
Tidy Desk, somewhat tidy mind!
Having a clean desk is a great thing to come into the office too. Keeping your desk clean gives you space to work. With less clutter on your desk, your are naturally more focused because there is less to distract you. It is also true to say that many of the papers we keep because we think we might need them one day are never used again. With the advent of scanning technology, if you really need to keep documents, it's better to use soft copies rather than hard copies, just remember to keep them backed up!
More than just a workplace
Human beings are a sociable animal. Maybe have some downtime doing something a bit philanthropic with an away day giving back to the community. Bearing in mind it would be a community activity it maybe best to ask your colleagues what they want to do. It doesn't have to be philanthropic though, a finish early on Friday for a wonder to the pub, or to watch a film. The possibilities are endless. Consultation is a good way to find out what employees are most keen on, but don't forget to include the silent minority.
At the end of the day, some things just aren't possible and there must be some acceptance of that. An employee shouldn't go in with a list of demands which are expected to be done straight away (or indeed ever). It should always be an open discussion and listening on both sides. Getting a good work environment is a two way thing.