No matter the stage our business is at, productivity is that key element that can always be upgraded, optimized and built upon. The common goal is always the same: increasing the bottom line and focusing employee effort and time on the most productive parts of their workday. It also leaves us all with more free time to do what we want while enjoying the fruits of finished work. A company always needs to find new ways to motivate its employees. They need to feel wanted, loved, encouraged, motivated, that they matter and are making an impact. No matter the level of organization or company size, being increasingly productive is a constant uphill battle. We should always start with the smaller things and work our way up. Small changes can drastically improve productivity in the office. One all those options are depleted should we consider making larger investments towards these goals. Here are some ideas that will make the most impact on our office productivity.
1. Space organization
Not only is it pleasant to see a neatly organized workspace, but it also has many productivity and efficiency benefits. It is only natural to assume that our working environment has a great impact on productivity. Chaos and disorganization can have a great detrimental impact on our ability to focus. There are simple and effective ways to take charge of organizing our office to achieve these goals. First of all, decluttering should always be at the top of our priority list. This makes sense because it will be much easier to go with every subsequent step when we have gotten ourselves rid of all the unnecessary clutter. A clean and clear desktop workspace will always leave employees with a sense of motivation and creativity. Depending on what your chosen industry and niche is, this can mean many things. It is up to every individual to make out what constitutes clutter and deal with it. A few minutes every day is all it takes, delete some unnecessary files, clean your work desk and put those old files where they belong. We also tend to live in a highly digitalized working environment. Everything is heading towards a more wireless experience but until we reach that point, cables are a common eyesore. There are other reasons for wired connections such as security and reliability but we will focus on the aesthetic aspect of it. They cannot (yet) be avoided, so how do we make them as invisible as possible? It is not all that complicated, zip-ties, groves and under the floor or wall cable canals will make a world of difference. A work desk can quickly turn into a Lovecraftian horror piece if all the cables are left to the entropic forces that be. These are just some of the forms of decluttering and depending on what you do, you can fill in the blanks yourself.
In short, natural light is our friend. We need to strive to utilize as much of it as possible. Comparing artificial and natural lighting, employees report a very significant drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision when utilizing the latter. As we can imagine, these symptoms constitute the majority of the most frequently appearing productivity killers. Maximizing natural light in a work environment significantly improves health, wellness, and the atmosphere. All companies are looking to empower their employees so that they work in a healthier and more pleasant manner. More natural light also translates to a more aware employee. For industries that utilize heavy machinery and other hazardous environments, this is an obvious safety benefit. It is not complicated to optimize natural light, large windows that encompass the facility are as far as it goes. The problem ensues when there is no natural light to be utilized. These are night shifts of it may be the winter months where daylight is cut rather short. In these cases, there is also plenty that we can do. Luckily for us, LED lighting is readily available and offers many benefits over the older, incandescent lighting. The LED allows us to choose over a large choice of options in terms of luminosity, light color, and warmth, these being the three main variables. Luminosity is measured in Lumens and represents the perceived brightness of the source of light. It may be tempting to install the brightest ones and simulate daylight, but it is not that simple. With greater choice, comes much more consideration that needs to be taken into account. LED can get quite bright, so it is necessary to shed some light upon the subject, pun fully intended. Warmth is measured in Kelvins and is also something to consider. The higher the Kelvin count, the colder the color is. Typically, the warmer the color the more homely feel it gives off. This might be a good choice in some industries such as coffee shops and hotels. It is not a good choice for busy and hectic working environments. Again, it all depends on our individual needs. The LED lighting is also eco-friendly as it gives off less heat and consumes a fraction of the energy per lumen. Either way, there are steps we can take to ensure this basic human need for natural (or close to natural) light is fulfilled.
3. Sitting alternatives
Since the dawn of office labor, sitting is pretty much the accepted conventional position for working. It offers the least amount of unnecessary physical strain while allowing us to get the work done without worrying about our legs aching from standing. A basic office chair with lumbar support is what we are used to seeing in a professional working environment. The problem is, working hours tend to be long and spending eight hours or more in a sitting, or any singular position is not a good idea. Variety is again our friend and we have plenty of options to choose from. If the type of industry that we find ourselves in allows for it, there are more professional looking alternatives and more relaxed ones. Beanbag chairs have a great reputation for comfort and giving the space they reside in a sense of aloofness making the environment more relaxing. Standing workstations allow for people to stretch their legs and change positions when working those long hours. They allow for blood to keep circulating and envigorate employees without the need to take many walking breaks. We can even go a step further and introduce walking desks, although they are still a bit of a novelty these days. What these and many more pieces of unconventional office furniture allow is the ability to remain comfortable and healthy over long periods of time without the need to temporarily abandoning the work we are doing. This is an obvious advantage when it comes to productivity and efficiency. The needs for breaks will significantly go down and employees will be reporting fatigue health and pain-related complaints much less.
4. Tools and equipment
To some, it may appear obvious, but providing employees with the right tools and equipment is key in doing the job efficiently and on time. It is surprising how many businesses tend to neglect this aspect or have a false sense that the current tool-set is adequate. It is quite counterproductive to spend employee’s time in non-essential workloads such as waiting for paperwork to print because of inadequate printing devices or waiting for that file to copy because of inadequate IT infrastructure. High-quality and modern tools and pieces of equipment allow for a smooth business operation, it is not something that employees need to spend their time dancing around. It also reflects the image our company gives off to potential clients and customers, which is of the utmost importance no matter if we are a startup or an industry leader. Knowing that we are up to date on modern trends, our employees will have much more confidence in the company and the working process itself.
5. A break room
The modern working environment can be a strenuous, stressful and hectic place. It is simply the nature of a globalized and atomized competition-driven market. As we get more and more work coming in and as our company grows we tend to feel the pressures of it. Employees need to take a break, even in the middle of the workday, without actually leaving the workplace. A dedicated rest or break room is becoming increasingly common because of these reasons. A break room consists of activities where employees can relax and forget about work but also socialize, brainstorm, come up with new ideas and further strengthen team cohesion through social activities. Some of these activities include table-tennis, air hockey, darts, ping-pong and so on. The physical aspect of these activities serves a double purpose of also getting that blood flowing as we have mentioned before. A 20 or 30-minute break that consists of a little friendly competition over a game of pool is exactly what hard-working employees need in order to keep going consistently in the future. Other than games, what a break room needs are condiments for the kitchen. Nothing special, a microwave to heat up some lunch, a fridge, some tea, and coffee is all that is needed. Coffee machine rental is common and coffee is the number one beverage in the world over which people tend to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. Combine all of these and you have a dedicated room decked out with all the necessities for people to relax and socialize before going back to work feeling refreshed and reenergized.
6. Compartmentalized design
One of the most common mistakes business owners make when designing their office is to focus the entire thing around a particular look and style choice. Usually, it is a combination of colors, shapes, and furniture that resonates with them, personally. This may not be the best course of action with the exception of the guest, client and customer meeting areas. In order to maximize productivity, it is necessary to custom tailor different parts of the office to suit the task it is designed for. This approach can boost morale and show a degree of professionalism and being able to think things through. This way the office can be specialized to cater to each individual sector or team. It will keep them in the right frame of mind, not bogging them down with things that are not necessary for completing their particular task. For example, the accounting department has completely different needs from the IT guys and should be situated in rooms that are specially designed to do one task and one task only. This way everyone can focus on their work and make the most of it.
Other than space being specialized for a particular work scenario, it is becoming increasingly necessary to make it flexible as well. The work is where the pen and paper (or laptop) is. Spaces need to be specialized, but employees are facing the growing necessity to be multi-talented. A lead programmer needs to be able to present his or her work in an appropriate room meant for presentations, for example. Just as these employees, there needs to be a flexible office space that can suit multiple purposes. These are modular spaces that can have their layout, furniture, and tools quickly adjusted to fit different needs. Space is expensive nowadays, and it makes sense to reuse certain rooms and offices to fit multiple purposes rather than renting and paying for a larger space.
Ultimately, a stress-free space is a productive one and will yield the best results. As we have seen, there are plenty of things we can do that are cost-effective and are always well-received by both employees and customers alike, that improve upon it. For a small business in its infancy, it is ever so important to break through the giant sheet of ice that is the saturated global market. Productivity and efficiency can be achieved but it is a constant struggle towards perfection and not a one-off type of deal. With these basic principles, we can be on our way towards a more lean and refined business process.
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