If there’s one essential ingredient to a thriving office environment, it’s employers taking care of their employees. Managers and task handlers are the lifeblood of an organization, and their level of output and morale will often directly influence a company’s long-term success.
This is especially true in offices that require a high level of focus, creating a healthy and inspiring working environment pays dividends. In highlighting simple ways to help facilitate such an atmosphere, below are five office productivity hacks designed to help improve organizational morale and overall output.
1. Dial-in the Office Feng Shui
Feng Shui, which is the Chinese system that focuses an environment’s spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (or “qi”), is a concept that’s been heavily adopted by western culture. While most popularly applied to the interior design of living spaces, principles of Feng Shui can also be applied to work spaces as well.
A few Feng Shui office productive hacks to consider include:
- Desk placement: In a small office, for example, it’s best to position a desk to have a view of both the door and the window. For shared office spaces or open floor plans, avoid positioning desks so that workers are sitting back to back.
- Artwork and imagery: In a Feng Shui office, it’s important to be surrounded by images and objects that keep you inspired, creative and productive. Consider flowers, paintings, rugs, and suitable window treatments. Hang beautiful pictures, mottos, and images that capture what you, or the company, is seeking to accomplish.
- Plants: Plants do the best job at bringing fresh energy from the outdoors inside. Choose plants that not only look nice, but also help to purify the air of indoor pollutants, such as snake plants, chrysanthemums, spider plants, aloe veras, broad lady palms, and Chinese evergreens.
- Color and mood: The color of a space in itself can affect energy and how people feel. In addition to wallpaper and paint, decorative wall graphics and architectural films offer endless creative possibilities to transform the color and vibe of a space to be more uplifting.
2. Optimize Natural Sunlight and Control Glare
Piggybacking on the aforementioned Feng Shui ideas are a few additional ways to further enhance the ambiance and energy flow of a work space. One of the most important but overlooked hacks is optimizing natural sunlight while taking control of distracting glare.
While many office interiors are equipped with blinds, shutters, drapes, and other sun control measures, these solutions block sunlight almost entirely, thereby relying on lighting systems to keep a space properly lit.
An alternative solution that offers a number of benefits is sun control window film by 3M™. The right type of window film can minimize dependence on artificial lighting systems and lower energy consumption by as much as 52%.
3. Make Regular Breaks a Must
In office environments of the 1980’s and 90’s, it was common to have structured break periods when workers could step away from their desk and relax for 10-15 minutes. Today, the concept of break time is far less structured. As long as employees are getting the results expected of them, most workplaces allow workers to manage their own day-to-day schedules and when they wish to take breaks.
Unfortunately, this level of freedom can oftentimes mean busy employees neglect taking breaks all together. While it may seem like a day without breaks would improve productivity and output, the opposite effect is actually the case. Several hours in front of the computer can be taxing, both mentally and physically. A marathon workday with no breaks will almost always have diminishing returns.
An interesting study by the time-tracking productivity app DeskTime isolated the top 10% most productive employees and analyzed their computer-use behavior during one workday. The research found that “the most productive people work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes.”
DeskTime’s magical 52:17 ratio hinges on the idea that short periods of work produce great results because they’re essentially sprints – intensive, purposeful work sessions that come after a proper rest. Not convinced? You can learn more about the study here.
4. Create a Clear Workflow and Managerial Structure
While this might seem straightforward and obvious, setting a clear workflow and managerial structure is a productivity killer that’s actually quite prevalent. All too often, output is severely crippled simply because employees are not clear on what they’re supposed to be doing at a given time. Sure, workflows may be inconsistent and change based on unique circumstances, but higher-ups in the company should strive to codify them as much as possible.
In short, clarify the chain of command. Make sure everyone understands who they report to and avoid creating situations where employees feel like they have too many managers or people to report to throughout the day.
5. Let Employees Work However They’re Most Comfortable
Even in conventional office spaces, everyone works differently. Some prefer to operate in more collaborative and open atmospheres, while others require greater privacy to do their best work. In short, employees perform best when their environment is optimized to their individual needs. For employers and HR professionals, that often means giving workers more options.
In the modern office, this might involve:
- dedicating certain spaces to quiet productivity sessions as well as collaborative areas that are more interactive and social
- incorporating standing workstations or office furniture that supports an ergonomically-healthy environment
- allowing employees to work remotely, even if just for parts of the day at coffee shops, libraries, etc.
The rise of email, video conferencing, and other collaborative technologies has allowed dispersed teams to work seamlessly together without issues.
With some of these office productivity hacks, it doesn’t take much to turn a mundane environment into an inspiring space that fosters morale and output. Even low-budget investments like a tastefully-selective rugs, detoxifying plants, rearranging office furniture, and structured break periods can have a tremendous impact.