Employee productivity is one of the most important contributors to the development of any business, big or small. Although difficult to quantify, it’s considered to be the formula for success, like a secret potion that lets companies achieve not only that which is realistic but much, much more.
It’s no wonder, then, that everyone wants to be productive. The concept lends itself to a utopian scenario in which any single person can make the absolute most of their work hours. Whether the idea is to increase production, boost creativity, or speed up problem-solving, it sure would be nice to achieve more with less.
The connection between physical space and productivity isn’t new, either. It’s been studied in the past several decades, throughout a period that coincides with the rise of the average worker’s productivity. In short, scientists have found that the efficiency with which we work does not have as much to do with self-discipline. Instead, it greatly depends on external factors, including wall color or room temperature, along with the state of our physical and mental health.
So, if your goal is to increase efficiency among your employees, it’s best to start with the things that have been proven to boost productivity. This will mean focusing on employee satisfaction, but also accepting the fact that less might be more.
In terms of your office space, you’ll find that it shouldn’t be too difficult to upgrade. But, any of these changes can only be effective if the company culture is given equal attention as the physical changes you’re about to make.
The effect of light on productivity
The first upgrade you should consider making to your office space is the lighting that you use.
Be aware of the fact that the availability of natural light has a huge effect on people’s physical and mental health. Poor lighting can have a negative effect on mood, mental health, and bone structure. Moreover, natural light has a significant impact on the circadian rhythm – your body’s internal clock – and smart lighting use can have huge benefits on putting your mind into work or relaxation modes.
Be mindful of the use of blue light in your office spaces. You need to know that it has a positive, energizing effect in the morning and during the day, but too much can have negative consequences. Blue light, such as that emitted by screens and LED lamps can cause damage to your employees’ eyes, or cause sleeping problems (which will automatically impact productivity as well).
When upgrading your office space, consider seeking the help of an experienced designer who will know how to make the most out of the available natural lighting. They’ll be able to create a balance between functional and decorative lighting that will boost productivity, without encouraging strain. Alternatively, you may do some research on your own and invest in smart bulbs that aren’t only energy-efficient, but also give you complete control over the intensity and hue.
Plants are not just for decoration
One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways you can upgrade your office space is to add greenery. Not only are plants pleasant to look at, offering an aesthetic benefit to your space, but they have numerous proven benefits for productivity as well.
Firstly, greenery in indoor spaces can contribute to a reduction in stress, which is one of the biggest obstacles to employee efficiency. Having a calming effect, plants positively influence mental health, improve employees’ perception of space, and can even boost creativity and problem-solving skills!
As for the scientifically proven health benefits of plants in indoor spaces, they clean air and can help remove toxic chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. They also absorb sounds so that those annoying conversations, ringing phones, or the regular bustle of a busy office don’t have as strong of an effect on your workers.
Think about the communal spaces
If you want your office to be a haven for dedicated, effective work, you will need to enable and encourage relaxation as well. Communal spaces can be hugely beneficial in allowing workers to take a short break every once in a while. Although this might seem counterintuitive when chasing exceptional results, it’s actually a crucial step in boosting productivity.
Relaxation areas should be made so as to encourage employees to take it easy, as well as to communicate. Simple things such as adding a comfy seating area, choosing warmer shades of lighting, and providing healthy snacks and a versatile coffee machine that’ll cater to everyone’s taste are all great first steps.
Advanced upgrades include gaming platforms, workout spaces, or even nap rooms. Again, if your budget is limited but you have the necessary space, you can add something as simple as a ping-pong table, a darts board, or just a couple of lazy bags. Your employees will surely appreciate (and make use of) the effort.
Choose your furniture wisely
Comfort while working is also important for productivity. Common ailments such as back, leg, or wrist pain can take away from employees’ focus, so it’s best to avoid them in the first place. The most effective way to do this will be to combine two efficient approaches.
Firstly, encourage employees to exercise regularly. You can do this by offering them a free gym membership, having some basic equipment in your office building, encouraging commuting by bicycle, or organizing sports activities once or twice a week. Fitness is crucial to physical health, and without it, most of your other efforts can be in vain.
Secondly, look for ways to reduce the negative effects of sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day. Investing in ergonomic chairs, or sitting-standing desks is a great start. You could, of course, take things even further, and encourage working from home, or if that’s impossible, moving at least some of your meetings to an outdoor area such as a terrace or a nearby park.
Use technology to your advantage
Last but not least, don’t be afraid of implementing tech and software solutions into your workplace routine. While certain apps can feel gimmicky and cause unnecessary distractions, there are great ways to use them to increase productivity.
Think about your workforce’s biggest challenges, and see whether you can solve them through software. Maybe you’re having trouble communicating and could benefit from a team chatting app such as Slack? Or you need better collaboration on big projects, in which case you can turn to Asana or Trello? Even a simple calendar app can have huge benefits when used to its maximum capacity.
Look for processes you can automate, and don’t be afraid to outsource low-priority tasks. You may just find that without the burden of these menial jobs, your employees will have better focus and will become more efficient at solving everyday challenges.
As you can see, there are various things you can do to encourage productivity among your employees. Designing an office space that promotes a (mentally and physically) healthy approach to work is one of the best places to start. Not only can an office designed for efficiency give you the tools and amenities that promote effective work, but it can also have a positive effect on company culture. And ultimately, the single best way to get results is to ensure your workers are happy, healthy, and enthusiastic about coming into work every day.