From KPIs and sales targets to team building days and free fruit for staff, companies are trying ever more ways to increase the productivity of their teams. One often overlooked factor is the space in which a staff group work. Numerous studies showing the relationship between our office environment and our productivity show that our surroundings have a significant effect on our productivity. We’ve pulled together some of the most interesting findings from recent case studies, to help you see if there are any changes you could make to your workplace to boost your productivity.
Traditional office design has always meant that an employee is based at their desk throughout their working day. But an increasing number of companies are embracing a concept known as ‘Activity Based Working’. In this style of office design employees don’t have a fixed desk, but move between spaces depending on the type of work they are doing. The different types of spaces available will vary depending on the type of work a company does, but a typical Activity Based Office will have spaces for collaborative work, spaces for quiet, focused work, and spaces for meetings.
Does it work? Well, the National Grid report an 8% rise in productivity following a move to an Activity Based Working model, and several other major companies are reporting similar findings. Perhaps a regular change in environment is just as important as a well-designed office or a low noise policy to an office’s productivity.
Let the Light in
Study after study has shown that natural light is a key factor to workplace productivity. Employees with more access to natural light consistently show higher productivity levels, lower absenteeism and better health. Why exactly this should be the case is still a matter of debate, but the basic principle that as humans we work best during daylight hours makes a lot of sense, especially when the light we work in comes from the sun. In one famous study from the 1980s, when a post office in Reno, Nevada redesigned its workplace to allow for more natural light, not only did the change result in an energy saving f $50,000 per year, but the team became one of the most productive in the country, increasing revenue by approximately $500,000 per year.
So open those blinds, let the light shine in and watch that productivity soar!
Cut the Clutter
Messiness just isn’t good for productivity. This is true on both a personal and organizational level.
On a personal level, messy desks cause stress as they are providing constant stimuli for a worker’s mind. While the typical image of a creative mind might be of a chaotic, messy space, studies have shown we are more creative and better at problem solving in uncluttered spaces; there is less for the mind to attach itself to, and more opportunity to focus. Messy desks can also create the feeling that a ‘to-do’ list is never going to be finished, not to mention how hard it makes it to find that all important document when it’s buried underneath a pile of files!
On an organizational level, messy communal spaces such as team kitchens or the photocopy room send out the wrong signals. People work best when they feel proud of their workplace, and tidy, well-organised spaces contribute to this feeling of pride.
Room with a View
Staff with a view onto an outside space are up to 25% more productive, a study by the World Green Building Council has shown. While this may have something to do with the improved natural light that a window seat brings, it is true that our minds are calmed and focused when we can take our eyes away from our screens and take in a view.
Not everyone will have the luxury of a seat by the window, but there are steps that can be taken to make the inside of an office more aesthetically pleasing as well. Ensuring clean lines of sight, bringing in plants and fixing artwork to the walls can all help to make an office a more visually stimulating and productive space.
Engage the Senses
What we see, hear, feel and even smell have an effect on how productive we are at work. Perhaps the most obvious one of these is sound – working in an office with fewer audible distractions will almost always have a positive effect on productivity. Some workplaces will have a natural and unavoidable noise, but noise cancelling headphones and ‘white noise’ tracks available on Spotify can have a positive effect. (Interestingly, absolute silence has been shown to be nearly just as harmful to productivity as high noise levels)
While hearing might be the most prominent of our senses, studies have shown that our other senses can affect our productivity at work. Colours, for example have been shown to produce different emotional responses, with blue said to be the tone most conducive to productivity. Smells are also a powerful emotional trigger and we can use these to help us manage our mood and productivity at work. The scent of pine is good for staying alert, cinnamon keeps us focused, citrus wakes us up and lavender relaxes us.
Finally, it seems that the old adage that people work better when they’re a little bit cold might not be true after all. Warmer offices are actually more productive offices.
We might not be able to help you make all the above changes to your office. But what we can do is ensure that your workplace is as pleasant an environment as it can be with our speciality office cleaning services. And a clean office is a definite step in the right direction!
Thanks for reading!
Jack and the team at JDK Cleaning.