Is your office affected by the three o’clock slump? Are people always busy but not actually achieving anything? Has the colleague in the next cubicle encroached on your personal space with her collection of holiday snowdomes? Do you need to increase productivity?
You’re not alone. A workspace is so much more than the desk you sit at all day long, and there are so many factors that affect your productivity.
To learn how to be productive rather than busy, it’s important to consider the work environment and culture. In order to improve your office, think about each element of the space and how it affects everyone present.
There is ongoing debate as to whether an open plan office is beneficial or detrimental to productivity. It appears that an open floor design is rather detrimental to focus and productivity, but is quite useful for innovation and creative collaboration. If you find yourself distracted by your work environment, it might be wise to consider noise cancelling headphones or privacy screens to help increase productivity.
Office vibes can have a huge influence on morale and productivity. Natural light can be far more inspiring than standard fluorescent lighting, and can also reduce eyestrain, fatigue and headaches. Colours can also be used to perk up an office space, with blue hues connected to higher productivity. Painting the walls is probably an unrealistic option, so consider bringing in photos or postcards that inspire focus.
Temperature also plays a large role in productivity, with warmer spaces creating more output than those with the air conditioning cranked up to levels of freezing. Of course, fresh air is even better, so if you’re able to open a window or use a fan to circulate air, then you’re on track to a clearer mind.
There’s no doubt that clutter impinges on productivity. If you can’t find a document or item because of the pile of paperwork on your desk, then it’s time for a Spring clean. While it’s great to personalise your space with photos or sentimental items, make sure it’s not at the cost of space and tidiness.
On the other hand, a personalised workspace can also inspire you to work more efficiently, particularly where indoor plants or natural scents are involved. Just make sure there’s an efficient filing system for sorting paperwork or samples. And yes, you can personalise the filing system too.
When it comes to mess, the same theory applies to computer files. Delete old emails and files, keeping things online sorted as neatly as your desk should be. It has the same effect as removing mental clutter, reducing distractions and encouraging mental clarity and productivity.
Sitting in the same spot all day can be a real drag. How many times have you read the same paragraph five times and still not taken it in? This is a prime example of brain-drain, where you’ve been focusing for so long that you just can’t concentrate any more.
Taking regular short breaks can help to clear the brain fog, improve focus and reduce the time spent staring with confusion at the screen. Frequent breaks can also reduce eyestrain and getting up for a short walk or stretch goes a long way towards refreshing the mind and body. It might only be a short trip to the water cooler or the tearoom, but stretching those legs for a few minutes can have a positive effect on the work you get done when you do sit back down.
Another important factor in energy levels is posture and comfort. Using a sit-stand desk can be good for changing positions and taking pressure of the neck and back that’s common with sitting down for long periods of time. An ergonomic chair can also help to ensure good postural support, especially one that’s adjustable for height and recline.
If the only thing available to snack on at work is chocolate or chips, you’re going to hit that energy slump a lot faster than if you were snacking on fresh fruit or healthier options. Same goes for soft drinks versus fresh water or herbal teas – people tend to eat or drink what’s on offer, so having healthy options present can overhaul the health of those in the workplace.
Hydration is important to increase productivity as well as for general health, but how many people reach for the afternoon coffee instead of the H2O? Some habits take a while to change, but by encouraging good eating and hydration across the board, it’s possible to create a culture of health.
Speaking of health, germs can spread like wildfire in the workplace. While a healthy diet can work wonders for the immune system, good hygiene practices can also help to increase workplace productivity. Make sure everyone is aware of efficient handwashing techniques and use hand sanitiser to stay on top of bacteria.
One of the most important considerations for productivity in the workplace is mental health. Stressed out staff is a recipe for poor performance and by addressing work methods and culture, productivity can soar.
One of the easiest ways to increase productivity is to use a diary, wall calendar, or online project management system. Keeping everyone accountable with dates and deadlines means work tasks are likely to stay on track.
There are many ways to use technology to increase productivity, including the ability to work remotely, organise tasks with clear communication, and collaborate across different departments and locations. On the flipside, some technology can be detrimental to productivity, with mobile phones leading the way for distractions.
While you can’t control the use of personal devices all the time, it’s possible to take some measures to minimise their impact on productivity, such as limiting Facebook and social media access via the company network.
Perhaps one of the hottest tips on how to be more productive is the creation of a positive work culture. An environment with high stress and disengagement can cost a business significantly, with higher rates of absenteeism, accidents and errors. On the flipside, a workplace that supports employees and recognises their contributions is likely to be more productive with lower stress and higher staff engagement and loyalty.
For the sake of mental wellness and business efficiency, a positive workplace culture is worth investing in.