The issue of workplace productivity has been discussed and debated for many years now, but in reality, just how much closer is the ‘average business organization’ to realizing the ‘productive office’ after all these years of conjecture and debate?
By the looks of things, not much if any closer at all, however, there have been some excellent ideas thrown about to consider. Of these often hyped and touted ideas, one stands out head and shoulders above the rest; the concept of balance in the workplace – a balanced mix of collaboration and focus.
Employees, in many business organizations, need a balanced mixture of collaboration – an environment in which they can brainstorm and throw ideas about – as well as focus – an environment conducive for concentrating on the task at hand.
According to Janet Pogue at Gensler, an international architecture and design firm, a balanced workplace is within the reach of all business organisations and not only giants like Facebook and Google with their“tricked-out, amenity-saturated offices”.
Here are four areas to work at improving.
In this regard she’s an exponent of spaces with an intuitive feel, “which enable you to seamlessly keep working.” This doesn’t involve a drastic overhaul of the entire office, but rather outfitting each room with the right tools.
“Having the ability to pick up and move, or having the ability to signal to others ‘don’t interrupt me’ by putting on headphones is really important.” This involves
empowering employees with the choice of where in the office they’ll settle down to do their work.
Pogue advises creating a space in the office in which employees can work without distractions or interruptions that would detract from their ability to concentrate on their work. This, however, doesn’t involve ‘the cubicle’.
Interaction is a big issue these days and a sub-issue that’s arisen in recent years concerns how to promote interaction amongst ‘non-mingling types’ who won’t go out of their way to interact with others.
Pogue advises installing areas, like the coffee machine, in a centralized area – much like Steve Jobs did at Pixar’s offices by placing their single bathroom in the middle of the building to encourage interaction.
Further workplace issues that affect productivity
Research into the subject of workplace productivity has identified a number of factors that have a negative effect on productivity in the workplace, some of which business managers can adjust with the aim of creating a workplace environment that’s more conducive to productivity.
1. Noise reduction
This is the most obvious problem with the ‘open office’, though there are solutions available including, as discussed above, creating a space where employees can retreat to and work without distractions.
2. Lighting and glare
Natural lighting good, artificial lighting bad – it’s nearly that simple.
Whilst natural light leaves workers feeling revitalised and may even promote better sleep patterns, artificial light has been found to bring on a feeling of drowsiness.
Some scientists have theorised that artificial lighting disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms which results in people falling out of sync with the sun.
3. Room temperature
It stands to reason that room temperature affects employees’ productivity levels for better or for worse, with studies on the subject identifying a room temperature of between 71 and 77 degrees as the optimum temperature for maximized productivity.
Ergonomics is a design concept you would have heard of, but how much thought have you given it?
Studies have long shown that employees are more productive when they’re comfortable, so outfit the office with ergonomic furniture and encourage your employees to adjust, adjust and adjust some more until they get the right distance, height, etc.
If you have control over the colour your office walls are painted – you will if your business ‘works from’ virtual offices in London – this is an area to look into further.
Studies have long proven that colour affects people’s moods, for example red makes people feel hostile – that’s out unless you’re involved in the defense sector – whilst white is open and neutral – though somewhat sterile – and yellow is bright, cosy and stimulating.
A more productive office is within your reach – you just have to implement the right changes.