For any company, increasing productivity can become an ideal way to increase profits. In the office, the reduction of waste, in both material resources and time can lead to better practices for the corporation. This practice can also increase employee productivity through offering a workspace that is conducive to creative thinking, energy, and focused attention to work.
Ultimately, different office spaces will have different needs. The proper equipment to facilitate workers in accomplishing their jobs can range from an integrated print and copy network which has remote access from private workstations, to furniture which is conducive to proper posture and natural movement. It can be important for businesses to analyze a combination of employee habits, company goals, and the practicality of the existing resources in order to determine what changes can be conducive to improving office productivity.
The Office Environment
Companies also need to stay aware that the actual configuration and appearance of the office space will also have an impact on how employees perform. This can be a combination of direct and indirect factors, but changes to the environment which encourage brightness and vibrancy can also encourage focus.
It is first necessary to realize that regardless of deadlines, business schedules, and extended work hours, the people who power the workforce are still influenced by natural rhythms that are controlled through the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. These natural chemicals govern diurnal rhythms for waking and sleeping, and this can impact the level of energy that is displayed throughout the day.
Are Your Employees SAD?
One of the biggest triggers for these neurotransmitters is light levels, and how these may fluctuate. Many people are familiar with a general shift in mood and in energy during the winter months, and this is highly related to the lesser amount of sunlight during these months. Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD) is recognized as this correlation between low levels of natural light and lowered levels of serotonin production. The result is the tendency for people to feel more melancholy, less motivated, and more tired throughout the shorter days.
Understanding how light levels affect individuals is important in the work environment, because it strongly indicated how surroundings can also be impacting employee productivity. Offices that are dark, highly compartmentalized, and have very little natural lighting can negatively impact employee productivity, because it puts them in an environment that is triggering a natural response which is opposite to productivity.
The Brighter, Kinder Workspace
Cosmetic changes to the office can greatly improve productivity, through raising energy levels, and through raising employee morale. Although any design modification should also support the practical function of the office, many changes can also improve this aspect by considering natural movement throughout the space and the ability to work without constrictions.
Alterations which can have a beneficial effect include:
- Natural lighting â€“ windows, skylights, and open break spaces that let in sunlight can enhance the biological rhythms of the body to increase productivity by working with the circadian rhythm.
- Plants â€“ vegetation can be integral to the workplace for a number of reasons. Plants have a calming effect in the office space, since they incorporate nature into the work environment. Plants are also ideal for absorbing much of the radiation that is present from the technology in the office space, and they also release oxygen. Higher oxygen levels lead to greater focus and energy and can dispel cognitive fogginess.
- Open spaces â€“ offices that incorporate more open space will also see greater productivity, as this gives employees a better feeling of freedom, which can also enhance mood and energy.
- Art and inspiration â€“ the choice of decoration and artwork can also have an impact on how employees respond in the office space. Images an designs that generate a sense of introspection and creativity can not only be beneficial to worker motivation, but can also set a foundation for better connections with clients through emotional resonance.
- Better break areas â€“ whether these are indoor spaces for relaxation or outdoor alcoves, these should be designed to be inviting, and employees should also be encouraged to make use of beverage services and break time in order to decompress throughout the day. While it may seem counterintuitive to productivity to promote breaks, a short on the job rest has been shown to greatly increase performance on a more consistent basis.
Any efforts to brighten the workspace and encourage a natural flow will become assets to employee productivity. Companies also need to remember that along with enacting changes that will directly benefit employees in the office, these changes can also encourage better habits at home, which will also lead to increased productivity.
The Energy Shortage
One of the greatest deficits to employee productivity is a lack of energy. While it is possible to make improvements to the actual work environment in order to induce creativity and motivation, these practices that focus on the aesthetics of the office will continue to have an impact even once a worker has left for the day.
The majority of professionals admit that balancing work and life can be a major challenge to wellbeing and to maintaining motivation at work. This frequently occurs from overstimulation that accumulates throughout the workday and can cause difficulties with sleep patterns and decompressing to relax. While scheduling and workload can contribute to this, much of this can also be an effect of electromagnetic influences.
In the office space, every piece of electronics emits electromagnetic radiation. The long-term effects of this type of exposure is still a subject that is being researched, but studies have shown that even for people who do not have a specific sensitivity to the frequencies, these emissions can still lead to hyper-stimulation in the brain. As a result, even when an employee is at home, they may not be able to achieve the optimal rest that is required to stay productive.
The use of the above suggestions, especially the encouragements of breaks and the use of light, plants, and art, to inspire employees and reduce the impact of office stressors can have important direct and indirect impacts on worker productivity.