Employee productivity is dependent on many factors, some of which are affected by their individual circumstances and others that can be influenced by the business. We all know a good night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast and a good journey to work can have an impact on employee’s productivity. But so can the physical space in which they work. The work environment has a big impact on employees ability to focus (and stay focused) and their overall productivity.
WHERE TO START:
To improve productivity among your staff you must first determine what your business means by ‘productivity’, i.e. more sales, effective team working, faster production and so on, before deciding on the best way of stimulating it.
Establishing what this productivity looks like makes it much easier to translate this through the creation of a work space that fosters this kind of activity and behaviour from your employees.
Productivity is enabled by a blend of ability, motivation and opportunity.
Well thought-out office design
There is an abundance of research promoting the notion that well thought-out office design is a powerful tool for stimulating employee productivity. Therefore, for employees to work at their most productive, the workplace should support ability, motivation and opportunity.
Interestingly, in 1985 only 30% of an individual’s work depended on working with others, however by 2010 this had increased to 80%. Hence, the trend towards generic open office plans to encourage collaboration and transparency. However, the downside of open-plan offices is the loss of quiet space which is needed for tasks requiring concentration. A clumsily applied open-plan office design will actually adversely impact on privacy and make focussing a real challenge for workers.
One of the current approaches to office design looks at the tasks staff need to complete within their role and then design the office space to create the different types of environment that will help them complete these tasks more effectively. This approach is known as Agile Working or Activity Based Working and has seen more success than simply jumping on the open-plan bandwagon that may work for some businesses but not for others, working out to be expensive and ineffective.
Does a manager always need an office?
Companies are seeing productivity benefits as managers give up their offices and start working alongside their teams. This approach promotes the manager’s place being in the middle of the action, not tucked away in an office.
The redundant managers’ offices are being turned into multi-purpose rooms for small meetings and focus rooms for independent quiet working. These focus rooms can, of course, be used by managers for one-to-one meetings and other work requiring confidentiality but they no longer have exclusive use and utilisation rates will increase dramatically.
The office environment makes a huge difference to employee wellbeing and productivity. Try assessing how you are doing on all of the points above to see where you can make a positive impact on your staff, and your business.