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Boosting productivity in the workplace

29th May 2018

Office workers

“The United Kingdom could reshape its economic future and unlock its share of £39.8bn in untapped GDP if organisations were to optimise workplaces”, according to a recent study by Ricoh and Oxford Economics. This fascinating statistic, taken from ‘The Economy of People’ report, suggests that developing an ‘optimal office’ could boost staff productivity. The figures show that 93% of employees agree that working from a fixed location is where they feel most productive. So, with workers spending so much time in the office, doesn’t it make sense to put some effort into making it an appealing and practical space to work in?

Creating a productive workspace

Whether you’re working in advertising or in a legal job in London, the ability to work efficiently and think freely relies heavily on a good working environment. As well as strong relationships with co-workers, many elements of working life can either boost or hinder productivity. In 2017, a study commissioned by UK-based Dale Office Interiors found that 48% of workers say that having access to a variety of different spaces to work in and relax in would have the biggest impact on improving their productivity. Managing director Warren Bricknell told Small Business: “The results of the survey were not that surprising to us; we’ve seen a shift in what employees expect in terms of workplace design. There has definitely been an increase in demand for a greater variety of space to work and relax in within an office. It’s about what matters to them.”

Bricknell also explained that although an innovative office design can boost productivity, it’s important to also consider the essentials: “Flexible, dynamic office design won’t work unless the basics are in place though and as our experience and research has revealed, the demand for better technology, a tidy office and better welfare amenities (such as kitchen and washroom areas) all play a basic and crucial role in creating an office space which motivates and inspires all staff.”

Going green

Cactus Crocus

Image: Crocus

The practice of incorporating plants and foliage into office spaces has long been hailed as an easy way to lift the mood of office workers. Bringing the outside in can have plenty of health benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety to cleaning the air supply. Multinational construction, property and infrastructure company Lendlease revealed that it has created green offices, with numerous benefits. “Plants are clustered in focus areas to absorb noise, and low VOC (volatile organic compounds – toxic chemicals found in paint) finishes and furnishings are used throughout. We also have higher floor-to-ceiling ratios for greater light penetration and all staff sit within eight metres of windows,” Lendlease’s head of health and wellbeing, Duncan Young, told In The Black. According to Young, 73% of the staff feel that the new green working environment enables them to work productively.

If you’re unsure where to start with adding a little greenery to your office, visit Crocus – an online gardening retailer – which has plenty of inspiration on its website.

Keeping it clean

Dusty offices, grubby keyboards and sinks piled high with dirty dishes are not tolerated at home, so why should staff put up with it in the workplace? With some offices housing well over 100 workers, the environment can quickly become unclean. It’s believed that a typical office keyboard can carry up to 7,500 bacteria at any given time. Viruses such as the flu can also linger on unclean surfaces like desks or electronics for up to 24 hours.

It goes without saying that a tidy workspace means a tidy mind. Decluttering your desk and keeping it clean can make a world of difference to your mental state while at work. Reducing the risk of spreading germs also means it’s less likely that you’ll come down with a cold during an important week in the office.

Get organised

Red Candy pencil pot

Image: Red Candy

Suck UK Sharpener Desk Tidy - £12.95

A disorganised workspace can be just as detrimental to your productivity as poor lighting, which is why arranging your desk in a neat and functional way is crucial. An article by Business Insider states: “There are more podcasts, morning routines, hobbies and even procrastination techniques that can make you more productive. But there’s one thing that might be missing from your arsenal of time management hacks: optimising your work desk and workspace for ultimate productivity.” The publication’s top tips include replacing extra-long cables that interfere with your workspace, keeping a jumper or cardigan handy in case of draughty days in the office and keeping a notepad handy for jotting down those all-important impromptu ideas.

If you don’t fancy staring at a boring pencil pot or a bland bin, it’s worth browsing some of the bright and fashionable alternatives. Red Candy is an online homewares company dedicated to interior accessories which are ‘colourful, modern and quirky’. We caught up with the team at Red Candy to find out more about the benefits of personalising your office space:

“Here at Red Candy we are strongly of the opinion that adding a splash of colour can make all the difference to your home; instantly turning it into a more welcoming and positive space. And this applies to your workspaces too!

“Adding some colour and character to your workspace is essential in boosting productivity. Office workers spend an average of 40 hours a week at their desks, so it’s important that the space is both inviting and personalised.

“Sitting at a desk which is situated to employees’ own individual tastes will boost their morale, and therefore their productivity! Bright colours are also known to increase creativity: perfect if your team work in creative roles. It’s also a brilliant chance to reflect the company’s ethos and character in the general office décor, making employees feel part of a movement. Think office plants, colourful décor and inspiring murals!”

Red Candy peg board

Block Mini PegBoard - £25

We asked the team to share their top tips for office workers seeking to organise their desks with some new, stylish accessories: “There are so many simple touches employees can make to their desks to instantly lift their mood at work. A funky pen pot, colourful desk photo frame or even a small planter are great places to start.

“They could also treat themselves to some colourful stationery and office storage. And for those who aren’t big fans of bright colours, calm pastel accessories will help them keep their work area nice and tranquil, yet much more inviting than a standard desk!”

Redecorate

According to a study by the University of British Columbia, certain colours, such as red and blue, can actually improve brain performance. The study found that red is the most effective at enhancing our attention to detail, while blue is great for boosting our ability to think creatively. Juliet Zhu of UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who conducted the study, said: “Through associations with the sky, the ocean and water, most people associate blue with openness, peace and tranquillity. The benign cues make people feel safe about being creative and exploratory.” Time to redecorate the office?

More ways to boost productivity in the workplace

Encourage staff to spend time outside

Working outside

Interior landscaping and scenting firm Ambius says UK office workers spend an ‘alarmingly limited’ amount of time outdoors each day, putting their health and wellbeing at risk. Research conducted by the firm found that 40% of office workers spend just 15 minutes a day outside, excluding their commute to work, and an additional 22% spend a maximum of 30 minutes outside.

According to Ambius’ survey of 1,000 office workers, on average, British workers spend more time per day at their desk or workstation (roughly 6.8 hours) than they do in bed (roughly 6.4 hours), relaxing at home (3.5 hours) or outdoors (37 minutes). As people are committing so much time to their careers, it’s important that workers ensure they get enough fresh air. Holding meetings outside or letting your staff work remotely or in an outside space, can have huge health benefits.

Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius, told HR News: “Human beings have an inherent need to connect with nature and green space. With workers spending so much time indoors, office managers need to be more aware of the impact the workplace has on wellbeing, bringing elements of nature into the workplace or enabling them to personalise their workstations has positive effects on performance, including increases in productivity, creativity and a greater sense of wellbeing.”

Healthy snacking

Graze

Image: Graze

In a busy office environment, it can be all too tempting to tuck into the leftover cake someone brought in from their birthday party, or that box of Celebrations sitting in the kitchen during the holidays. But eating junk food can severely damage productivity in the workplace. By making an effort to eat healthier snacks, your body will thank you in return with bursts of energy, without that dreaded sugar crash at 4pm. For more information, check out our article on how to stay healthy as a business professional. Snacks made by the likes of Graze, Creative Nature and Nakd are delicious and healthy alternatives to chocolate bars and crisps.

Looking out for your staff

Identifying fellow members of staff or employees who may be suffering from mental health problems can be difficult, but ensuring that people feel they are in a safe and welcoming environment is crucial. By regularly communicating with your colleagues and, as a manager, conducting one to ones with your team, you are helping to build a trusting environment in which someone will feel comfortable asking for help if they are struggling with stress or anxiety. The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has lots of helpful information on mental health in the workplace, as well as tips for managers.

Whether you’re considering your first legal job in London or managing a team in an office environment, there are plenty of ways to boost productivity in the workplace.

Image credit: Red Candy