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How to Improve Your Productivity at Work

Author: Pascal Grenier
by Pascal Grenier
Posted: Dec 15, 2019
plan offices

What are the main aspects your business considers when it comes to boosting employee performance? Faster computers? More incentives? Better training? These factors are, of course, all worthy of evaluation, but it would be remiss not to consider the physical work environment. Offices have numerous elements that can be optimized for increased employee comfort and wellbeing. Open-plan offices: productivity-boosting or just distracting?

Businesses are increasingly adopting the open-concept office over more enclosed private offices. Companies have long believed that this style promotes collaboration and teamwork while allowing managers to keep an eye on everyone's activities. However, a number of studies have revealed that open-plan offices are not as conducive to productivity as more private spaces. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that "enclosed private offices clearly outperformed open-plan layouts in most aspects of IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality), particularly in acoustics, privacy and the proxemics issues". The research found that the "benefits of enhanced 'ease of interaction' were smaller than the penalties of increased noise level and decreased privacy resulting from open-plan office configuration".

Lighting: The importance of colour

Tailoring lighting throughout the office building could be an inspired move - literally. The right kind of light helps workers get creative by boosting feelings of invigoration and excitement to share ideas, according to architects Stanley Felderman and Nancy Keatinge. During a lighting trial, researchers at the University of Greenwich have found that workers they put under "blue-enriched light bulbs" said they were "happier, more alert and had less eye strain".

Cooler blue light lowers levels of melatonin, which our bodies need to fall asleep. The right lighting temperature, therefore, has the ability to boost performance and productivity, which then has a positive impact on your business' bottom line. Meanwhile, warmer light boosts feelings of relaxation and comfort, making it ideal for break rooms and areas where employees can take time out. It can also be used to good effect in meeting rooms where you want your employees to feel welcomed and trusting.

Wearable technology: health-boosting opportunities?

Introducing these connected devices will give employees the ability to measure their activity levels, as well as recording their food and water intake. When employees are healthier, they're more productive. A study by the University of California, Riverside, UCLA, and Washington University in St Louis found that employees taking part in wellness programs were five per cent more productive.

Fitness trackers can also monitor employees' heart rates, which can give companies an insight into whether large numbers of workers might be getting ill - something that can have an impact on a department's performance. Companies can also use this data to provide more tailored - and often cheaper - health plans for employees. HR teams will be able to work with employees to design unique plans that consider an individual's specific health risks and requirements.

In meetings amongst executives and HR departments alike, employee productivity remains a top priority. And although various productivity incentives have been implemented, many businesses still overlook the biggest productivity enabler of all – the physical workplace.

Today, only a few organizations place sufficient strategic importance on the physical working environment as a key driver of organizational performance. A recent Stoddart Review study highlighted this oversight by providing evidence that the measurement of workplace effectiveness has largely revolved around space utilization, rather than the design’s impact on productivity. This impact of this oversight is becoming increasingly apparent in our workplaces today.

According to a research study conducted by Leesman in the UK and Ireland, only 53% of respondents agree that their workplace allows them to work productively.

Furthermore, the Leesman Index reported that 86% of employees in "high performing workplaces" indicated that their workplace enables them to work productively, while only 15% of employees in "low performing workplaces" indicated a similar opinion. So, what are the factors that disrupt productivity in the workplace?

The workplace is not conducive to different ways of working

Often times an open-office landscape, or another form of office design, is believed to be the ideal solution for creating a more collaborative or productive office environment – but this one-size-fits-all approach is not the optimal way to approach design.

For example, the Stoddart Review reports that a large open-office do not always result in more collaboration, efficiency or innovation. In fact, open-plan offices can be distracting, noisy, irritating and counterproductive. These clear pitfalls of an open-plan office were evident in a 2013 University of California study, which discovered that office workers in open-offices were interrupted as often as every three minutes by either digital or human distractions. Furthermore, it was observed that after a distraction, it could take employees up to 23 minutes before they returned to the task in hand.

That being said, open-offices have various benefits, but workplaces should provide different environments that are beneficial to employees’ different styles of working. This entails layering the work environment with places that support connectivity, openness, accessibility and privacy.

The workplace has only been optimized for space utilization

Reporting to the financial director or chief operating officer is business as usual for employees working within facility management and corporate real estate industry; however, this pattern of reporting has created a cost-driven approach to office design. In these business environments, the physical workplace is viewed as a cost rather than a valuable asset.

Therefore, many companies strive to increase occupant density to lower costs, creating noisy environments that frustrate employees and obstruct efficiency. This approach to thinking is actually quite the paradox, because, in reality, nothing is costlier than an unproductive workforce.

To succeed in enhancing employee productivity, Stoddart Review suggests that these reporting hierarchies be rethought.

Progressive employers, who view the workplace, tech and human capital on equal footing, have already taken this step. These progressive employers have put an emphasis on learning about their employees’ needs by appraising their workplace and soliciting regular feedback.

The workplace is viewed as a product – not a journey

Despite the fact that real-estate is the second largest cost (after salaries) for companies, businesses only review their infrastructure holdings when a lease event arises – unlike employees, which are typically reviewed once a year.

This neglect reflects the failure on behalf of businesses views their workplace as a contributor to the organizational performance by creating review processes structured around efficiency.

Creating a productive workplace for employees

Although often overlooked, the workplace is a key driver of employee productivity. For the workplace and the employees to constantly suit each other, the workplace must be seen as a constant work in progress.

As described above, to be productivity-driven, the design of a workplace must account for various needs of the occupants and be adaptable to changes. Therefore, the workplace should be viewed as an asset that continually is observed, tested, discussed and tweaked.

For more information please visit our website: Julsolutions

About the Author

Pascal Grenier has been a wedding photographer since 2004 and is also passionate about writing on various subjects such as photography, real estate, investments and SEO.

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Author: Pascal Grenier
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Pascal Grenier

Member since: Apr 02, 2019
Published articles: 9

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