People usually have a dedicated workspace or office because they find they work much more efficiently without the distractions of home. In some circumstances, it also allows for a better work/life balance, as the home is for family life and downtime, whereas the office is purely a place for work. Working from home can often blur these lines.
Office spaces can – and ideally should – be crafted to improve the productivity of each individual employee, by designing the workplace better. An article in Inc. mentions that practical office design solutions tend to help workers focus more.
However, functional design is only one-half of the equation. Businesses also need to include a methodology for helping workers find mental peace. The modern world is increasingly hectic, and workers that have their minds focused on other things can't function at peak performance levels. Companies can incorporate several things, both in their design, and to promote positive office culture, to help their employees enjoy their jobs. Here we explore some of the measures that businesses can put in place to help their employees be more productive.
Build off the company's mission
A mission statement, as Shopify informs us, is a pure expression of a company's existence. The business's purpose, however, doesn't always translate well to the employee's goal of doing his or her job. By incorporating the company's mission into the everyday workings of an office, a business can promote its reason for existing alongside what it needs from its hires. Harvard Business Review notes that when employees have a sense of purpose, they are usually far more productive. Individual goals tend to allow for more self-motivation in getting work done.
Incorporate individual and collective achievements
Employees are individuals, but most companies seem to overlook this fact. As a business grows, it's unlikely that individuals remain working by themselves. When projects scale up, work teams need to do the same to cope with the workload. As the company has already given employees their own sense of purpose, the next step is to bring individuals together to provide a working environment that focuses on the overall goals of the business. However, these goals also help individuals pinpoint the targets they need to achieve from a specific project.
Collective achievements can only be obtained if everyone is mature in how they approach the project. A company that's operating on a team-based system needs to have project planning in place so that everyone is aware of what others are doing. Alongside project planning, weekly meetings that help employees pinpoint their short-term goals can keep the system moving and offer milestones that motivate employees. Finally, feedback among team members is essential. The marketing agency Distilled mentions that it considers feedback to be the most critical factor in creating a good team. Without proper feedback, communication suffers and causes the entire team to fail.
Include psychological cues to boost work productivity
Psychology has shown several ways in which the things that surround an employee could affect his or her mental state. To this end, a business could consider using these psychological cues to help employees increase their focus. Among the elements that a company can incorporate include:
- Music. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research mentioned that music at around 60-70 decibels created a more conducive environment for people working on both monotonous and creative tasks.
- Plants. The New University of Technology Sydney stated that plants may have a beneficial effect on the mental state of employees within an office environment.
- Lighting. Interior lighting can have a significant effect on the mood of individuals within an office space, according to designer Stanley Felderman, as quoted in a blog post for The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Change the background a bit
Office work can be dreary. It doesn't matter if you're working out of a cubicle, or have an office rental in Sydney, eventually changing the scenery is necessary to get productivity to its peak level. Changing landscape doesn't necessarily mean offering an employee a chance to work from home for one or two days. It can be achieved by making the break more inviting or by creating "living nooks" around the office that offer something better than a desk and chair to get work done on. Some employees are far better at working on a couch than in a cubicle.
Encourage employees to help each other
Human beings are social animals, and ever since they existed in tribes, the natural inclination is towards helping others. Proof Hub notes that collaboration helps to make a company more efficient and gives a more equitable distribution of work across all segments. Collaboration takes multiple methodologies, including brainstorming, cross-document collaboration, or picking up projects where other employees get stranded. Additionally, this sort of partnership fosters teamwork and a more united attitude towards the job.
Offer workers the tools they require
Modern workplaces can provide a wide array of the necessary equipment to get work done. Software is a prominent part of this structure. Most companies have an inventory of computers that are loaded with the software they want their employees to use. Keeping these assets up to date ensures that employees can get the job done when they need to. Updating hardware and software also means ensuring that these updates are timely.
It can be tempting to give employees more software than they need on a system, especially if the employee is a multi-tasker. Instead of it helping the situation, it could lead to the employee getting sidetracked on jobs and responsibilities that are not theirs. Keeping workstations focused can help to keep employees fixed on a project as well.
Don't forget to take a timeout
Business Insider mentioned that breaks fuel better productivity in employees. The tipping point, according to work done by the Draugiem Group, is around 52 minutes of work to 17 minutes of rest time. The most critical element mentioned in the study was that these 17 minutes needed to be spent away from the computer for it to have a better effect on the employee. Relocating to a new room or a water cooler would be an ideal method for implementing these breaks. To keep fit and help to exercise some muscles, employees could consider taking that 17-minute break to stretch a bit.
Make achievements public and celebrate them
While some employees aren't a fan of having their work celebrated, doing so helps them to see that their work is appreciated. The Houston Chronicle recommends developing an employee recognition program that outlines the benefits the employee has presented to the company. Celebrating achievements offers employees the chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor in the short term. The achievement might not be an essential goal, but it does constitute a milestone. It is important to remember that this celebration needs to be genuine, or else the feeling it gives to an employee could be compromised by the sense of insincerity.
Appreciation is the key to productivity
A productive office doesn't need a lot to maintain its efficiency. The workers are a competent bunch, and with the right incentives and celebration of their successes, the company culture can fuel even higher productivity. Office design contributes to the overall productivity of employees, but companies shouldn't spend too much time focusing on the physical aspects of their business's layout. Instead, focus on the creation of a company culture that welcomes all, and celebrates them as people and individuals, not just as cogs within a machine.