27 Simple Office Design And Maintenance Tips That Leave A Lasting Impact On Your Productivity

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People often turn to time management techniques, routines, and apps for answers when talking about productivity. But while all that can help professionals get more done in less time, the physical spaces we work in can have just as much of an impact on our performance!

Discover how simple office design and maintenance tips can leave a positive and lasting impact to you and your employees’ performance.

Help Create Friendships And Foster Collaboration With An Open Environment

Workplace Productivity - Open Environment

“Money makes the world go ‘round,” some say.

But friendship is a primary source of workplace motivation for 61% of employees.

Companies can only stand to gain from getting their workers to bond and grow together. Study after study, researchers saw friendship as a leading indicator of productivity. Not only do friends work on office projects better than, say, acquaintances. But the former also tend to stay longer in an organization.

So how do you encourage your staff to buddy up?

“Friendships are likely to develop on the basis of brief and passive contacts,” a trio of Stanford University researchers concluded. Steve Jobs understood this idea well and redesigned the offices of Pixar around it.

Jobs wanted people to bump into each other often and start unplanned collaborations. He replaced the existing buildings with an open-plan design to let employees from different disciplines to mingle and have meaningful conversations.

On the other hand, Pixar’s offices features amenities that are out of the question for most businesses, including a spacious atrium, employee mailboxes, and entertainment facilities.

But worry not! Creating a more collaborative environment that fosters friendships is doable even for smaller offices.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Do away with the single-occupancy cubicles and replace them with desks that can accommodate two or more people.
  • Adding generic areas where people can come in to catch a breather and think in the presence of co-workers is a good idea. Just make sure you put these areas away from noisy and high-traffic locations like the stairs and restrooms.
  • Have a designated dining area to encourage your staff to take real breaks and have casual conversations instead of taking lunch at their desks.
  • And to help workers capture their ideas, place whiteboards around the office and give out post-it notes.

Improve The Air Quality And Boost Your Team’s Mental Sharpness

Workplace Productivity - Air Quality

Indoor air in some homes and buildings is more toxic than outdoor air says the EPA.

A workspace may look neat and free from pollutants. But common office equipment like laptops, desktops, printers, and copiers emit a smorgasbord harmful substances. The list includes ozone, ultrafine dust, hydrocarbons and other VOCs.

A study by teams from universities in the United States confirmed that:

You become what you breathe, especially in an office.

The study tested the participating employees under 2 different conditions. The first one was the standard office environment, one with high levels of emissions. The second simulated “green condition,” with improved ventilation and reduced levels of VOCs.

The result:

Employees performed 61% better on cognitive tasks in the green environment than in the standard (and polluted) environment.

Findings of other researchers echo the results of this particular study, with employees experiencing 30% less headaches, 26.4% increase in performance, and better sleep when working in green-certified buildings.

The building you’re in may not be, say, LEED certified. But that doesn’t mean you improve your office’s air quality.

  • Keep a vacuum cleaner with a strong suction and a HEPA filter handy. Toxins, dust, pollen, and other allergens can accumulate in hard-to-reach spaces at the office if left unchecked. A strong vacuum cleaner can reduce the concentration of pollutants in your workspace, while the HEPA filter ensures they stay inside the bag.
  • Wipe the floor clean with a microfiber mop after vacuuming. Microfiber cleaning can remove 98% of soil and contaminants from a surface using only water. So you can get rid of those chemical-based cleaning solutions.
  • Perishable food will create foul odors and attract pests when left on their own. Get a fridge so employees can store their leftovers properly. Remember to clean the refrigerator on a regular basis to prevent unpleasant smells from building up.
  • Store a few rolls of disinfecting office wipes. These wipes clean and deodorize different surfaces like wood, metal, tiles, and plastic. They’re also handy for quickly cleaning water spills, which can create a thriving environment for molds, fungi, and other microorganisms. If you work in an industrial environment, you might want your workplace to be cleaned a little more thoroughly, check out www.integratedair.co.uk if this is something that may interest you.
  • When moving things around, make sure the areas near air vents and grilles stay free from congestion. Putting furniture, shelves, and other office equipment near vents can affect the airflow and indoor temperature.
  • Enlist the help of air-purifying plants. More on this idea in the next section!

Add Leafy Greens To Boost Productivity By Up To 15%

Workplace Productivity - Leafy Greens

Modern living and work keeps us glued to technology, leaving us very little time for going out and connecting.

This state of affairs led to what author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder.” Louv argues that spending more time indoors alienates us from nature. He also believes the latter is a possible cause of negative mood and reduced attention span, both of which can affect performance.

Fortunately, helping your organization reconnect with Mother Nature doesn’t take much.

Adding a couple of indoor plants can help fill some of the shortage in nature exposure. In a study published that looked at commercial spaces in the UK and the Netherlands, adding leafy greens to an otherwise barren workplace increased productivity by 15%. If you are thinking about getting some indoor plants though to help with your productivity, then you can check out a website like Bloomspace which gives advice on what houseplants to get. It is explained here why these plants are good, and how they are beneficial, but also (and more importantly), it talks about the pests that these plants have to deal with and how you can avoid this.

Lush indoor plants not only communicate a business owner or office manager’s commitment to wellness. But they also create a healthier environment for workers by purifying the air and releasing oxygen.

When choosing plants for the office, keep an eye for varieties that can survive and thrive with minimal care. So you can reap the benefits without losing valuable time on watering and tidying up pots. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Rubber plants are easy to maintain. Sure, they need moisture and constant watering in the growing season. But later on, you may only need to water these plants once or twice a month. Rubber plants also prefer indirect light and a lot of shade, making them an excellent office desk companion.
  • Spider plants have nothing to do with Spider-Man. But they have superpowers, too. Not only are they relaxing to look at, thanks to their vibrant green appearance with streaks of white. But spider plants also improve air quality by reducing the levels of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants.
  • Snake plants are famous for their air-purifying properties like spider plants. Care for these flowering shrubs is straightforward. Give them a free-draining soil, water them once every few weeks, and you’re all set.
  • While succulents known for being hardy, few varieties can match the popularity and hardiness of jade plants. They can get by with minimal sunlight and watering while still keeping their thick dark green leaves. And if you believe in luck, the jade plant is also called the money plant and thought to bring money to homes and businesses.

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Boost Alertness And Improve Employees’ Moods In A Cinch With The Right Lights

Workplace Productivity - Office Lighting

For many, lighting’s main purpose is to shine light on whatever task you’re doing. But science says lights in the workplace serve a greater purpose.

Flicking a switch or replacing a bulb can boost workplace productivity or destroy it.

Imagine an employee working on a complicated project full of spreadsheets and bits of data. Red lights may keep his desk well-lit, but they can get in the way of his work. Warm hues like red can help one relax, especially before bed. Not what we’re looking for!

Instead of warm colors, workers engaging in tasks that require intense focus are better served by daylight-like blue lights. Many studies have peered into the effects of the latter on mood and mental performance. The conclusions were identical. People exposed to blue light produced less melatonin, stayed sharp, and felt happier.

But optimizing lighting for workplace performance isn’t just about color. Here are simple suggestions to make sure your lights deliver more than illumination.

  • Unveil those windows and let sunlight come in. Doing so may just boost your sales by 40%! On the other hand, your office may lack in windows and installing one or two isn’t possible. If this scenario rings true, you can use mirrors and glassy or metallic furniture to maximize natural lighting.
  • Vary your lighting. Research by the Light Right Consortium found that 91% of workers are more comfortable working in an atmosphere with direct and indirect lighting than with only downward lighting.
  • The same study also concluded that having personal control over the lighting sustained motivation and increased alertness workers.
  • Consider using smart LED bulbs. These lights can adjust their colors and brightness to enhance performance. Workers solving a creative insight problem can dim their lights to get their brain juices flowing, while employees can relax more during breaks with red lights.
  • Replace flickering light bulbs. They’re disruptive!

Set The Temperature Right And Keep Your Staff In Good Working Shape

Workplace Productivity - Office Temperature

Researchers from Cornell University found that maintaining a comfortable thermal zone can reduce errors and save employers $2 per worker per hour.

But setting the office thermostat for comfort and performance requires subtlety.

While 20 to 26 degrees is a good starting point, you will want to vary based on the outside temperature and the time of the year.

One must also take the gender of workers in consideration. Women have lower metabolic rates and are more susceptible to cold than men. If women make a large portion of your workforce, consider increasing the temperature by a degree or two.

The layout and other features around your office can also affect indoor temperature. Windows don’t just let sunlight in, but they can also warm a room. Be wary of the ceilings, too, as keeping them too high can overwork the heating and air conditioning system.

Here are some ideas for maintaining that comfy temperature in the office.

  • A fan can move the air around and help workers cool down on a summer day.
  • Upping the smarts of your office can help optimize your energy usage and thermal control. Smart thermostats, for example, monitor the weather and outdoor temperature and adjust the indoor temperature accordingly. On the other hand, remote electrical outlets let you control your power (ex: switch on/off, schedule) using an app.
  • Water coolers don’t just smooth the way for chit-chat. They can also help employees stay cool during warm days and boost mental performance by hydrating the brain. Foods like watermelon and celery can also help workers rehydrate.
  • Keep cubicles and workstations away from air conditioning outlets. For good measure, add deflectors near events to divert cold bursts of wind away from your staff.

Keep Workers Happy With Food And Refreshments

Workplace Productivity - Food & Refreshments

Happy employees are effective at what they do.

And when talking about satisfaction, few perks are as fulfilling for employees as free food and drinks. A survey involving more than 1,200 employees saw 60% of the participants state that having company-provided food would make them feel more valued and appreciated.

One idea that a previous company recommended was for offices to invest in video systems, where the idea of having a work get together would consist of watching a movie of choice (alternating weekly), with food and refreshments included. Who wouldn’t turn down free food and the chance to watch their favourite movie with friends! If this is an idea that you think you could get behind at your work place, you could look into something like commercial av systems bluffton sc to help make this a reality. You’ll become the office favourite in now time. Back to the idea of food…

The ubiquitous tech company that is Google knows how food can pave the way to an employee’s heart. And cofounder Sergey Brin tasked architects and interior designers to keep snacks, desserts, and beverages within 150 feet of employees.

And why not?

Having free food in the office means workers don’t have to go out of their way to eat. So they can spend the saved travel time in doing good work. For Google, the free and delicious meals also helped different departments and teams in their campus work together and innovate.

If you plan on providing free food for your crew, the following tips are a good step in the right direction.

  • Carry out a poll and ask workers which foods to avoid. Most allergies and sensitivities are minor, but some can be life-threatening.
  • Add a vending machine or two so employees can refill their tummies and stay energized. But be mindful of the food items you put in the machine. While sweet sugary snacks are common, you want to add healthy high-protein options like crackers and nuts.
  • Take care of the daily essentials for your staff like water, coffee, and tea. Doing so will save your employees dozens of trips to cafes.
  • Be clear with your food and drink policy, and it should include the other tips mentioned like storing food at the fridge and eating at the designated dining area. Make sure your employees are up to speed with the rules and that you follow them, too!

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Kevin is the community manager for Cafepoint. Always looking to take his work performance to another level, you can find him lurking at blogs like Task Pigeon in search for motivation and the latest breakthroughs in productivity.