9 Easy Changes to Make Your Business More Productive
In any company, no matter how large or small, time is money. Mastering the art of getting things done (a.k.a. productivity) thus proves very important to creating and maintaining success.
In this context, both the physical environment and culture of a business play a role in how motivated and effective employees feel at work. These nine tips are used by top businesses to create optimal environments for working and make a positive impact on your workplace’s productivity.
Tip 1: Introduce some greenery
While most jobs can’t be conducted on a beachfront veranda, adding a touch of nature offers benefits. One study by the American Psychological Association found that workers in spaces with plants showed 15% higher productivity.
More importantly, live plants also promote healthier indoor air. NASA researchers found that certain plants removed volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air, which come from plastics, paint, cleaning materials and furniture — all typically found in offices.
Tip 2: Let the sun in
Harsh fluorescent office lighting is no friend to eyes. It’s been associated with UV-related eye disease, melatonin suppression and more. Conversely, research shows links between sunlight exposure and productivity.
But what if not everyone can sit by a window? Don’t fret. One study found switching to softer, more-natural-toned bulbs instead of halogens can still help.
Tip 3: Keep temperatures moderate
Temperatures play a biological role in circadian rhythms, which affect our alertness and tiredness. Getting it right is important, as studies show that office environments that are either too warm or too cold impact people's productivity and accuracy.
So, what’s ideal? One Cornell study found that warmer temperatures in the office reduced errors and improved productivity. Plus, your staff can leave those blankets and extra sweatshirts at home.
Tip 4: Find apps that will automate tasks at work that you would usually do manually
Sometimes the best way to escape from a productive rut is to switch up your tools. Whether it’s tracking time, streamlining communication or creating a smarter to-do list, downloading some new apps can help manage your time and produce better work.
Tip 5: Develop a system for each of your common tasks/programs — especially the ones that are more complicated
For businesses to succeed, your processes need to have structure. Writing down all the steps in a particular task or output helps immensely with this. Creating task-specific checklists not only helps the person/team who is doing the task but also allows someone else to step in and have the same project road map. Moreover, creating process checklists goes a long way to make the different steps clear and transparent, as well as easier for management to review.
Tip 6: Create some privacy
Open, collaborative office spaces have been trending for some time, and they do have perks. However, recent studies indicate they might not be best for overall productivity. A Gensler study showed 53% of workers felt disturbed by others’ activities when they themselves were trying to focus; 69% were unhappy with noise levels at work.
According to the same study, workplaces with a balance between individual focus and collaborative spaces were found to be more innovative, creative and encouraging for workers. Another solution could include a rule that headphones mean “do not disturb” or quiet hours.
Tip 7: Take strategic breaks
Turns out, working long stretches is not the key to getting the most done. Research actually finds that short breaks ultimately result in greater productivity and accuracy, especially with repetitive work. For computer-based employees, frequent rest breaks also help reduce eye strain and physical discomfort.
During those breaks, do whatever you need to do to clear out any mental distractions and feel happy.
Tip 8: Use 15 minutes of your day for quiet reflection about your life and business
Practicing mindfulness is not only good for the C-Suite; it’s good for everyone. By taking the time to reflect, employees can step back to see the big picture for each project as well as where the business is going in the long term. Pro Tip: Jot down the specific steps that come clear in your mind.
Tip 9: Show appreciation
Creating motivation and making your team feel appreciated is a critical part of long-term productivity. A Harvard Business Review study reported that workplaces with "positive and virtuous practices” such as mutual care, support and kindness – and workplaces that inspire and emphasize the meaningfulness of work, as well as emphasize respect and gratitude – enjoyed greater productivity, performance and customer satisfaction.
Moreover, the study suggests that these positive practices create more loyal, happy and creative employees with more resistance to negative events and stress. Another easy way to keep employees engaged is to simply thank them for their work.
Ideal environments create optimal productivity
Fine-tuning the details of both the physical and mental environments in a workplace can yield significant differences with minimal investment. When people are happy, comfortable and clearheaded, there are fewer distractions to get in the way of goals and motivation. The results are a better company culture and, over time, a better bottom line.