The average Canadian spends 36.6 hours per week at work, making your physical office environment very important when it comes to your ability to focus and produce quality work. In fact, studies show that a well-designed office can increase work productivity by 20%.
Unfortunately, many companies still don’t consider office design an important factor in work productivity and focus, choosing to put their resources into other company investments instead. This can be more detrimental to a company’s bottom line than one would think, with a recent Gensler Workplace Performance Index report revealing that “workplace strategies that sacrifice focus in pursuit of collaboration will decrease the effectiveness of both. As focus effectiveness increases, so does collaboration effectiveness.”
Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to to improve your physical work environment that don’t require a big budget. In fact, it’s the little things that make the most difference.
Open plan layouts have become the norm in many offices around world, with most offices having one of two types of open plan layouts:
- A cubicle layout which offers wall dividers for privacy but lacks any real personal space.
- A generic one room layout which is devoid of privacy or personal space and consists of only open space as far as the eye can see.
Designers had good intentions when implementing this office design concept in the sixties, thinking an open layout would boost employee interaction and creativity. Unfortunately, studies have shown open layouts to do anything but improve office productivity.
More and more studies are showing that an open office concept actually makes it difficult for employees to focus and complete tasks. When colleagues are in too close proximity, tasks that require strong focus such as writing and programming become difficult to complete. Noise, sight and even smell of nearby colleagues can throw off your concentration. So what’s one to do if your office lacks any real personal space or privacy?
While a complete office renovation is most likely out of the question, movable office walls can be a great solution to your office space dilemma. With a moveable wall, you can change the layout of your office in one step. Room dividers like these are great for changing up individual work spaces and meeting rooms, and creating rooms where there are none.
Ask your employer if they’d consider investing in some movable dividers. The office dynamic would change for the better since a change of scenery refreshes your brain and helps you stay focused.
If your boss doesn’t seem convinced, it can’t hurt to mention that a recent study by the Danish Ministry of Employment found that workers in open plan offices take 62% more sick days than those who have their own private work area.
Nowadays, the majority of our work takes place online, with computers being all we stare at all day long. While our office space may only be the backdrop, both our physical and online environments need to be set up appropriately for optimum efficiency and productivity. Natural lighting in an office is ideal as it helps reduce fatigue and improve focus.
If your office is short of windows, however, and only has fluorescent lighting, it might be wise to invest in an energy lamp. Energy lamps are lightweight and portable and by mimicking the sun, help improve mood and concentration.
It’s also important your computer screen’s brightness is properly adjusted in order to avoid eye strain and fatigue.
At our office, we swear by F.Lux, a desktop app that adjusts your computer’s colour display according to the time of day. This means that no matter the time of day, your computer screen will mimic the natural light around the room- gentle indoor lights at night and bright like the sun during the day.
This may come as a shock to you but sitting in the same rigid position all day at work isn’t exactly great for your health. The World Health Organization suggests 150 minutes of physical exercise per week, which equals to 30 minutes of exercise a day when divided up throughout the work week. Regular exercise is vital as it improves both your physical and mental health.
Fitness helps with brain function, specifically with mood and focus. So if you’re experiencing a mental slump at work, get out of your seat and try stretching and moving your muscles. Even a simple one-minute walk around the office can help kickstart your concentration and allow you to get back to work with a fresh focus.
Our company encourages mini breaks and together as a group, often step out together to grab fresh air as a way to reenergize.
Up until a few years ago, the office kitchen was nothing more than a place to store your leftovers and fill up on coffee in between breaks. Now, the kitchen has become an innovative way to bring colleagues together and boost company productivity.
Several offices in the States have turned their kitchens into fully-stocked work areas, providing daily lunch for employees and lounge space to work at, should employees wish to change up their work environment.
Big name tech brands like Google and EA have had full-fledged cafeterias for years and now and even formal law firms are following suit.
This kind of inclusive atmosphere has paved the way for forming new personal connections, not too mention a higher rate of productivity as employees no longer have to venture outside of the office for food.
It’s a clever way for managers to keep employees focused and on track. If employees have everything you could ever need in the office, why wander outside for anything?
Having unlimited access to the expansive, fully-stocked office kitchen in our New Media Sources office, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. Walk into our office at lunchtime on any weekday and you’ll find the team seated at the kitchen counter, chowing down on freshly-made food and discussing everything from ongoing work projects to the latest Game Of Thrones episode.
It’s turned our company into a close-knit team that enjoys each other’s company and the actual company itself. We feel appreciated and looked after and more inclined to put in greater effort for our team.
So often, we think we need to make big changes in order to see results but that doesn’t have to be case. If you’re left scratching your head at how to get started though, it can’t hurt to share this article with your manager…who knows, he or she just might just take our suggestions to heart!