Productivity and the work environment

The right tools and environment can have as much impact on productivity as internal factors, says Richard Morris, chief executive at Evans Easyspace. He shares four tips to help you and your staff stay focused. 

4577790197_9093f36cee_oWhen we’re not making good progress, it’s all too easy to turn the blame inwards: a lack of sleep, a lack of focus, or even just a lack of coffee. But it’s not just internal factors that can affect productivity. The right tools and the right environment can go a long way towards getting the right amount of work done.

Remote working

According to the TUC, the average UK worker spends 55 minutes a day commuting – that’s over 20 hours a month. Letting staff work remotely could eliminate their commute, meaning they could spend that time getting the actual job done.

However, it would be a mistake to automatically assume that remote working means working from home. Indeed, research has shown that fewer than 10% of people, when given the choice, actually want to work from home. Most people don’t want work to encroach on their home lives and are simply more productive in a ‘third place’, which is closer to home.

A place to break away

Being chained to a desk for forty hours a week is hardly a motivating experience. And if the famously liberal offices of Google and Facebook have taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need a highly regimented working environment in order to succeed.

Breakout rooms, kitchens or business lounges are all simple ways to give your workers some brief rest, so they can get back to their work recharged and refreshed. They also double as perfect collaboration areas – some of the best business ideas have come about on a sofa with a cup of coffee. You could even follow the example of the Huffington Post and provide employees with a “nap room.” According to research from NASA, a 26-minute power nap can improve performance by as much as 34%.

A private space

The last few years have seen a significant surge in popularity for open-plan offices and co-working spaces, and there’s no doubt that these kinds of spaces are great for boosting communication and collaboration.

But there are still occasions when people need access to quiet space to take a call, read or write a document, or simply sit and think. Providing staff with a range of different workspace, including a designated, private space which is free of disruptions, is crucial to maintaining productivity.

A touch of nature

Life’s no fun in a dark, sterile workplace. And, despite being acclimatised to just about everything artificial, we still need to see the sun from time to time. Studies show that workers who get plenty of natural light get better sleep – which means you really should try to fit in as many window-seats as possible.

Introducing plants to the office is another cost-effective way to bring a touch of nature to your place of work and could make it a much more motivating environment. Research from the University of Exeter shows that “enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15%” – and other studies have shown that being close to plants can lower physiological stress, increase attention span and improve well-being.

Creating the right environment for your team to do their best work isn’t something to be ignored – it could be as important as your efforts to guide and motivate them directly. So if you want to see higher productivity, don’t just focus on culture and rewards: create an environment which will help your workers feel energised and focused.


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