A lot of the time, the determining factor in an employee’s productivity is the one you actually don’t see. It’s not just about the schedules, the workload, or the orientation of their desk in relation to their coworkers. It’s about the subtle, physical factors in their surroundings. On average, people spend eight hours a day in their workplace and the office space can either make or break their productivity and motivation.
Here is our top advice on how to subconsciously affect collective morale in the best way possible.
Sounds ridiculous, if not simple, no? You must be wondering how temperature plays into the whole idea, but there is more to optimizing office space than just decor. First and foremost install the best HVAC system you can afford, or upgrade your old one. Having a cool, aired-out office during the summer heat can increase focus as they spend less time finding ways to cool off. In contrast, keeping an optimally warm temperature in the fall or winter will do wonders, unless it gets warm enough to lull everyone to sleep. Monitor the employee’s reactions, and adjust the temperature accordingly.
A word on Furniture
While it’s vital to give your company its staple through furniture and interior design, keep in mind that it also needs to be functional. Clunky, oversized chairs and desks will get in the way and make walks from one station to another longer. Make current floor plans of your office spaces and sit down with your employee representatives (or HR specialists) to determine what kind of furniture is best suited where depending on the department working there, and the purpose of the specific offices.
There is an ongoing debate about whether or not open-plan offices do more harm than good. While many don’t like distractions in the form of five to ten desks around them, tapping away on their keyboards or chattering quietly, there is one interesting thing. Everything becomes transparent. When every laptop or PC screen is out in the open, everyone becomes a little more aware of the time spent on their tasks. Transparency can affect positivity in a great way. The only thing to consider before any big moves with office plans is to make sure this transition is what your company needs, and that the employee number can handle it.
Stifle the noises
This goes for noises other than keyboards and computer coolers whirring away, or the distant sounds of outside traffic. Printers, fax machines and phones make just as much distracting noise. The ideal course of action would be to separate a room where the fax and copy machines would be, and not keep them in every corner. When it comes to phones, limiting calls to cell phones on silent mode, or designating spaces where employees can make personal phone calls will surely help others focus more on tasks at hand, than others’ issues in their personal lives.
Keeping your floors orderly and your offices organized and clutter-free will instill the same mannerisms in your employees. Toss out the unused electronics, replace old décor, and try to refrain from hoarding anything that you’re aware will be of no use in the future. Old, stained or damaged furniture is an eyesore, not to mention it leaves a bad impression on the clients as well as employees. Keeping clutter to a minimum and having them know where everything is at any given time will speed up the workflow, and you can achieve this by using a supercheap storage unit for placing unnecessary items. They will spend less time trying to find something tossed away in the archives, which also saves a lot of frustration.
Speaking of archiving, ditch the paper and printer ink if you can, and start storing everything in the cloud, or designated servers. Although paper seems more reliable than something digital, this will spare you and your workers a mountain of headaches and shift that energy to where it really matters. Not only are digital copies clutter-free, but they also are easier to search through, go over, and rectify should anything in the text be missed or overseen. There is no need for special physical folders or files or archiving rooms with piles of paperwork.
Before you start to change
Taking everything into account, it does seem that employees’ productivity level comes largely from seemingly unimportant things, such as the location of the water cooler, or if the temperature in the office is a few degrees above or below. There are countless ways to use this to its full extent, and see just how much the workflow can improve. The best way to approach this would be to observe for a while and notice any patterns or proverbial crutches in people’s everyday routines. That way, when you sit down to make changes, you will know exactly what to do and how.