8 Essential Tips for a More Productive Office

24 June 2014

With temperatures rising and World Cup fever fading fast, you may start to notice energy levels dropping in the office. So what can you do to keep everyone upbeat and boost productivity among your employees? Before you consider financial incentives or dragging everyone out on a company-sponsored excursion, consider whether your office environment may be part of the problem. With a few quick fixes, you can create a better working environment for staff which will improve the atmosphere and boost productivity. Here are 8 tips to turn your office around.

1. Add a splash of colour. As far as office decor goes, most firms opt for minimalist white to promote a clean and professional look. However, white walls can also create a rather dreary institutional feel, especially when combined with fluorescent lighting. If your drab office is bringing staff down, brighten it up by adding some strong colours to the mix. According to researchers, different colours affect our subconscious in different ways – for example, red encourages focused thinking and attention to detail while blue sparks creativity and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. Light yellow will help to create a bright and breezy office atmosphere.

2. Go green. Being stuck indoors for long periods every day can make even the most enthusiastic employee a little stir-crazy, so put some plants in the office to create a more ‘outdoors experience’. According to TED speaker Kamal Meattle, three common household plants – Areca palm, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, and the ‘Money Plant’ – are the most effective at converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, and filtering and freshening air. These natural air fresheners will improve staff health and productivity levels.

3. Let there be light. Just like plants, humans need sunlight to survive so let in as much mood-lifting daylight as you can by opening any office windows. As well as letting in sunlight, having the windows open will let in the natural sounds of chirping birds and rustling trees, infinitely preferable to the tap-tap-tapping of a computer keyboard. However, this may not be such a good idea if you can’t hear the phone ring due to honking horns or an airplane flying overhead. If you can’t open the windows due to noise levels, at least keep them bare rather than covering them up with blinds or curtains. Natural light will enhance mood and boost productivity so the more you can let into your office, the better.

4. Buy ergonomically designed office equipment for employees. A comfortable office chair as well as ergonomic keyboard, mousepad and other pc accessories should be another top priority. As well as minimising the risk of repetitive strain injuries and other office-related ailments, employees who are comfortable and pain-free will be better able to concentrate on their work. Providing information about correct posture will also help – for example, keeping your back straight and your feet on the floor while sitting will improve circulation and boost thinking power.

5. Add a break area. After a couple of hours sitting at a desk, employees should be free to take a break and stretch their legs. Far from being a waste of productive time, leaving the desk and moving around increases blood flow and keeps the brain active. In addition, taking a well-earned break can help keep employee stress levels low. Ideally, you should create a separate space where staff can go to relax a little. The break area at Google’s HQ in Silicon Valley has a pool table, table tennis and foosball on offer but you don’t have to go that far – a table and chairs, a coffee maker and some vending machines will probably suffice.

6. Keep things tidy. Most of your employees will have their own method for organising their workspace but you should provide the resources they require to do so effectively. A decent-sized desk, sufficient shelf space, segregated drawers and other organisational tools will ensure employees don’t spend half their day searching for an important report buried under a pile of paperwork. A regular spring clean – deleting old emails, slinging unwanted office junk and filing away paperwork – will also help. A messy workspace is the sign of a cluttered mind while employees that have a well-ordered desk are likely to organise their thoughts better too.

7. Give employees their own private workspace. While studies have shown that open floor office plans can boost creativity and communication among employees, one drawback to less privacy is that workers find it harder to concentrate on their individual work tasks. Most employees these days prefer to have a private and segregated workspace where they won’t be distracted from their core duties, while also having a common area (such as a break area) where they can swap thoughts with others and bounce ideas around.

8. Invite feedback. A happy office is a productive office so ask your employees what they’d like to see changed and try to accommodate their wishes as much as possible. This might mean offering more flexible work hours to accommodate employees with children or providing more training to upskill employees and boost their engagement. Another famous Google employee perk is the 20% time program that allows staff to spend up to one-fifth of their work time on a special project outside of their normal workload. You might not be able to give your own office workers quite that much creative freedom but allowing employees to pursue a pet project alongside their regular work will encourage creativity, engagement and problem-solving skills.

Creating a happy, healthy work environment is the key to raising productivity in your office. Follow these simple tips and you should start to notice the difference immediately.



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