10 Ways to Create a More Productive Work Environment
There are a variety of factors that can influence your productivity. But, nothing is more impactful than your actual work environment. After all, it can affect your decision making, mood, and even your physical health.
The work environment that you have created for yourself or the work environment that you reside in day-to-day is critically important. In business, we optimize everything -- think mobile optimization. Consider it essential to make sure that your work environment and conditions are optimized to boost your productivity. This preparation doesn't have to be an overwhelming chore, but it will take some action as you embrace the following ten suggestions.
1. Create a culture of productivity.
Your work environment doesn’t just include a physical location and conditions. It also contains processes and procedures. The culture of your business should also be included here. What does it "feel" like to be you in your office?
With that in mind, the first place to start is creating a culture that embraces productivity. Here are some suggestions from DeskTime that can you begin to implement:
- Determine your goals so that you know the purpose of everything that you do. In precise language, communicate these objectives to your team and key stakeholders.
- Speaking of goals, set individual goals for each specific member of your team. Well-defined goals and tasks let everyone know how they are contributing to the bigger picture. Clear-cut definitives also let everyone know what exactly is going on within the startup itself.
- Encourage collaboration among your team. You can promote and strengthen cooperation by scheduling brainstorming sessions and granting permission to cloud-based documents.
- Support your team as they take frequent breaks so that they stay refreshed.
- Consider changing the scenery or routines within the office environment to help get everyone out possible ruts.
- Always provide the proper tools, resources, and education so everyone can complete their work. Knowledge can take the form of offers through training and professional development opportunities.
2. Make calendar management a priority.
Calendar management may not be on the top of your to-do-list. But, it’s the only way to keep you and your team at peak productivity. Time and schedule management also prevents anyone within your organization from wasting precious time.
Thankfully, creating and managing a team calendar isn’t a stressful endeavor if you follow these steps:
- Many offices only allow one person to be in charge of the shared calendars to avoid any conflicts.
- Reduce the number of tasks that each of your team members handles.
- Use color coding in your calendar to help you quickly differentiate various tasks and events.
- Block out time for everyone in the office to work in peace without getting interrupted.
- Schedule time buffers between meetings.
- Create more productive meetings by making sure that the meeting is necessary -- keep them short and concise.
- Don’t add any last minute events to the team calendar.
- Include holidays and time zones so that there isn’t any confusion on deadlines or meeting times. Working across timezones may necessitate working and speaking in military time. Instead of four p.m., you'd say, "16:00." Using military time will leave little doubt of precisely what time is referenced.
- Review your calendar and make any adjustments as needed.
- Use tools, such as Google Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, Apple Calendar, Calendly, ScheduleOnce, and Calender, to aid in collaboration. Make sure that you don’t go overboard. Limit the number of tools you use to an essential few -- and have everyone coordinate together.
3. Redesign the office.
The physical environment and conditions of your workplace play a role in your productivity. It may be time to give your office a much-needed overhaul, or even a facelift. Here are some of the best areas on which to focus:
- Let in as much natural light as possible. Research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that those persons working in natural lighting stayed on-task for 15 percent longer than who worked in artificial lighting only.
- Choose the right colors in your office. For example, yellow is ideal for creativity, while muted colors are relaxing and soothing.
- Place plants throughout the office and allow your team to decorate their areas and personal spaces as they like.
- Keep the temperature at around 72 degrees.
- Add an air freshener. Lemon scents produced 54 percent fewer mistakes.
- Create an ergonomic workplace design to prevent carpal tunnel and eye strain.
I’d also add that you have a variety of workplaces for various tasks. For example, casual areas are perfect for socializing and reading, while cubicles provide privacy when you need to focus.
4. Pump up the volume or the sound of silence?
Depending on the study that you come across, you may read that background noise improves productivity. Other research may say otherwise -- and states that "silence is preferred when working." The boss needs to set the tone for this decision and not be vague about the instructions. Having a separate conference for louder meetings is recommended.
Here’s the thing -- everyone is different. I know plenty of people who work best when there’s background noise like music or people talking. Others, however, want it completely silent. Take the time to determine which type of environment is best for you and for your employees. I worked in one office where music was cranked up about five or six p.m. each even, having us all leave on a "high note," so to speak.
5. Keep your workspace clean and organized.
There’s nothing wrong with a little clutter. It may even get those creative juices flowing. However, that doesn’t mean you should work in a pigpen. Keep your workspace clean and organized. Not only will this save you time since you aren’t searching for misplaced items, but it will also prevent your mind from zoning in on that mess. An orderly office is probably better for your health too.
6. Identify and reduce distractions.
Every office is packed with distractions ranging from smartphone notifications to chatty co-workers to meetings. Take the time to find out what’s distracting you and your team the most. When you spotlight problem areas, you can look for the solutions and the best ways to stop these distractions in their tracks.
7. Avoid micromanaging.
I get that this is your startup. Yes, you are the boss; you are the founder. However, obsessing over every little detail and regularly breathing down your team’s necks is counterproductive. Let up on the reins a bit and let your team work how and when they like -- within reason, of course. Assign the work and expect it to be accomplished. The "how" is less critical.
Related: How to Stop Micromanaging Your Team
8. Make sure that you have the right tools, equipment and resources.
It’s almost impossible to get things done when you’re not armed with the right tools, equipment, and resources. Both you and your employees should have everything needed to perform their duties. What’s more, your team should be able to quickly address any questions or concerns without going through any hoops. For example, there should be cloud-based documents that answer troubleshooting issues.
9. Focus on health.
When you take care of yourself by exercising, eating healthy and getting enough sleep, you’ll have the energy and alertness to get through the day. You can assist your team by launching an employee wellness program, filling the office with healthy snacks, and not emailing them 24/7.
Provide exercise equipment in the break rooms -- and maybe a scale. Let your team see you pumping a little weight, or riding on the stationary bike during your breaks. Make sure that you, as the boss, take a break and a lunch so that your team feels free to do the same.
10. Tap into the power of positivity.
A happy and positive work environment equals a more productive one. Like most of the other items on this list, it’s easy to achieve contented, happy employees by:
- Handing out plenty of positive reinforcement to your team.
- Showing gratitude for all of the hard work everyone has done.
- Celebrating wins and events like birthdays.
- Have fun in the office by playing games or going on team adventures.
- Just saying, “hi” and smiling more.
- Practice inclusion.
- Engaging in random acts of kindness like having a surprise pizza party or reward.
- Improve your emotional intelligence so that you respond appropriately.