When it comes to productivity, it’s easy to get caught up in time-management strategies and not consider your surroundings. But your work environment plays a key role in how efficiently you can get things done, as everything from the decor to the air quality can impact your mental state in the office.
So whether you’re working from home or looking out for your employees, check out some of these design and maintenance tips that can help everyone in your office work more effectively.
1) Not too hot, not too cold
The thermostat is probably not the first place you’d think to look when it comes to increasing productivity. As it turns out though, setting the air temperature at the wrong level could be detracting from your quality of work.
The default for many workplaces is around 22 degrees, but some evidence suggests that could be too low, as typing errors tend to increase as the mercury falls.
You can go too far in the other direction too – but in general, if the temperature is out of workers’ comfort range, their bodies are wasting energy keeping themselves at the right level.
So if your employees are complaining that things are too chilly or too warm, give your office thermostat some thought – and if you’re not in charge of the thermostat, keep a sweater or a fan handy.
On a lighter note, turning to a more illuminating topic, look to the lighting in your office if you or your employees are lagging. How well your office is lit matters for more than just seeing the work in front of you – though that in itself makes lighting worth optimising.
Office lighting impacts motivation and health, among other things – crucial components that factor into everyone’s productivity.
Solutions here include maximising the natural light that enters your workspace with broad and numerous windows. But since that isn’t always an option, using artificial lights that can be adjusted in sync with natural circadian rhythms is ideal.
And no matter how many windows are in your office, it’s always a good idea to take a walk (or multiple!) at some point during your workday.
3) Clear the air
We’ve talked about temperature, lighting – how about the air quality?
Well, you may not have heard, but poor air quality in the office can hinder your employees’ ability to be productive throughout the day.
This is because air quality has a direct impact on your physical well-being – and if the air is stale and poorly filtered in your office, it can lead to respiratory problems, fatigue, and allergic reactions.
Not only do these symptoms hamper people’s ability to function in the moment, but it can also drive workers right out of the office by increasing the frequency of illnesses.
So pay attention to sneezes and sniffles – whether it’s flu season or not, these could be signs that your office’s air quality needs some attention.
4) Bring the outdoors in
You probably knew it was coming, but it always bears repeating: indoor plants in the office are a benefit to everyone. Plants liven up spaces and help break the monotony of a corporate-looking office design with bright colours and interesting shapes (more on that in a minute).
Not only that, they’re also downright good for you. Remember that bit about air quality?
Well, plants are your best friend in dealing with airborne toxins and boosting everyone’s respiratory health, as they work overtime to filter out things like benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia from the air. And if you don’t believe me, ask NASA – they use plants to improve air quality in space stations.
5) Embrace ergonomics
It’s hard to work when you’re hurting, and it’s easy to be hurting if you’re spending 8 (or more) hours a day using furniture not designed specifically to keep you healthy.
The standing desk movement has taken workplaces by storm, but you can help employees simply by replacing old chairs with ergonomic ones and making sure every piece of furniture is adjustable.
The changes aren’t complicated, and embracing just a few ergonomic principles can be all it takes to make you and your employees’ workdays pain-free – and productive.
6) Add some accents
While it’s becoming less and less the norm today, some workplaces are still full of drab, uninspiring colours – and that can be negatively affecting happiness and productivity.
You may not have the space in your budget to completely overhaul the look of your office and come up with a bold colour scheme, but sometimes it doesn’t take much.
For example, office murals are increasing in popularity due to the benefits they have in terms of productivity, stress levels, and creativity.
So whether it’s a new paint job or a mural, adding in splashes of colour and art to your workplace can be very beneficial to everyone in it.
If you’re struggling to get more out of your employees (or yourself), it can be hard to know where to start. But productivity isn’t always about buckling down and eliminating distractions, getting a better to-do list, app, or managing your time better.
Sometimes what it takes is sitting down and recognising that everyone wants to happy and comfortable in their surroundings – at home, yes, but especially at work, where they spend much of their time.
The good news, though, is that there are many simple changes you can make in your workplace that will make a world of difference for everyone in the office.