Does Your Work Environment Support Productivity?

Your work week is cram packed with tasks and deadlines, but is your work environment designed for productivity?  The design of your personal workspace and that of the larger office environment significantly impacts how well you work, and how much you accomplish.  Whether you are self-employed or work for a large firm, time is money. Productivity is critical to success. Therefore, taking the time to assess your work environment is time well spent.  You want to be able to answer, “yes” to the question—Does your work environment support productivity?

To guide you through that assessment, take a look at the factors below that have proven to impact productivity. There are six environmental issues that can impact productivity at work

1. Lighting-go natural or go blue

Research shows that there is a direct correlation between natural light in the workplace and productivity and quality of life.  Without natural light, your body’s circadian rhythms become disrupted. With that, sleep disorders, depression and other physical and psychological conditions can result.  If you are chronically tired, in ill physical or mental health, you will not be as productive. But what if you can’t opt for an office with a window? Lighting that uses blue light can help.  Blue light is the color people respond to in nature. Blue light causes the brain to produce less melatonin, a chemical that makes you sleepy. A study cited in Scientific America found that volunteers who worked in blue light were less tired and more attentive when compared to those working in fluorescent light.  In addition, blue light reduces eye strain.

2. Temperature

As important as lighting is to our work experience, it might surprise you that temperature can be even more important. Research has found that temperature can have an even greater impact than lighting on productivity.  It makes sense. If you’re distracted by your discomfort and taking steps to cool down or warm up, you certainly won’t be as productive.  The optimal range for productivity is 69.8 F to 71.6 F. The money your boss may be trying to save at the thermostat will cost in lost work.

3. Greenspace matters

Time spent outdoors packs a healthy one-two punch.  There are both physical and psychological benefits.  Being outdoors can lower stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and blood pressure.  It can also improve short-term memory and focus. Being healthier both mentally and physically allows you to work at your best.  If you are lucky enough to have an accessible outdoor space at work, take a break outside. Even if your office isn’t blessed with a lush courtyard to stroll through at lunch, bring the outdoors in with a plant in your office or photos of beautiful outdoor landscapes to reap de-stressing benefits.

4. Flexible workspaces—work better on the move

In order to work at your optimum, your workspace should be flexible enough to adapt to the various needs of your workday and your work style.  Unless, you work solo, you’ll need space that is conducive to collaborating with others. You’ll need access to meeting spaces. At other times, you’ll need access to quiet space to process or produce more complex work.  If you are sitting there thinking, I have a cubicle, you still have options.  Consider a variable height desk or nab real estate at a counter or on a couch for a portion of the day.  By moving and changing position throughout your day, it’s like a break for your brain. Even mini breaks help you regain focus.  Your back will thank you as well.

5. De-Clutter your work space

That mess on your desk in not just an eyesore to the office neatnik.  Clutter cuts into your output. A study found that 38 hours per year are spent by employees who are looking for lost materials. That’s almost a whole workweek of lost productivity. Take a few minutes to put systems in place to store materials logically.  Then they’ll be much easier to retrieve. Another strategy that could help is to make backup digital copies of your most important docs.  With the iStratus DayPlanner app for iPhone, the PDF Creator can generate these digital copies.  Those copies will be encrypted and safely stored in Dropbox Cloud Storage for secure and mobile access.  As you get your organizational systems in place, you’ll have handy backup. Another thought, at the end of each work day neaten up a bit.  You’ll be ready for work in the morning.

6. Noise management

A noisy work environment can be tricky.  In open space design, it’s hard to carve out your own piece of quiet for focused work.  Noise doesn’t affect everyone to the same degree. However, noise does negatively impact productivity universally to some degree. Noise-cancelling headphones might be a good option.  Don’t be tempted to pop in your earbuds and use music to wipe out the noise. Music is still a distracting input to the brain.  Even better, try to encourage your staff to adopt some quiet hours during the day. Or, at least, develop a culture that doesn’t condone idle chit chat throughout the day.

You spend so much of your life in your workspace.  Why not work to make it the most conducive to working at your best?  By optimizing the environmental factors in your workspace that can boost your productivity, you’ll be best equipped to really make an impact.  For other tips to optimize your time at work and beyond, visit iStratus.