How to run your office like a well-oiled machine

Employee productivity is no longer based on hours spent staring at a computer screen but rather the amount of time workers are doing their best thinking alone and in collaboration with colleagues.

Well designed spaces, smart time management, along with happiness and motivation all link to help employees perform their best on the job.

Here are a few tips to ensure that employees make the best of their work days:

Make (good) noise

The right amount of noise has been shown to increase productivity within the workplace. In a study published by Oxford University Press, it was found that background noise triggers abstract thinking and enhances creativity. You want enough of a buzz but not so much that it takes people away from the conversations they need to have.

If the office is inherently too loud, mask sound with white noise machines or laid-back music. Another option is to consider furniture and decor that absorbs and soften sounds. Noise absorbing panels can double as art work is also a good idea.

Keep them moving

More and more companies are moving away from traditional office layouts with assigned seating. If you want to encourage collaboration, not having assigned seating encourages people to move around and talk to each other.

A variety of postures — standing, sitting, and even relaxed lounging — are important to keep employees physically active and mentally stimulated throughout the day. Having the option of a standing desks gives employees the flexibility to change positions, so they aren’t hunched over their computers for eight hours.

A mix of spaces

A mix of individual and group work spaces ensures that employees can tackle different types of tasks throughout the day. Most employees have both individual and collaborative work requirements and each requires very different skills and levels of concentration. And that is where a really well-designed space can make all the difference. Spaces that are focused on collaboration 24/7 detract from focused individual work, just as old-school models where employees are walled off in cubicles discourages working together. Making sure offices offer both work spaces that accounts for both of those needs is very important.

To find balance in open plan offices, there should be places where employees can get away. Private spaces are important for people who are introverted or perform better alone. In workplaces with closed-off cubicles, create cozy spaces where employees can hang out and chat throughout the work day.

Make minutes count

Increase the amount of work done in the day by embracing time management methods. Typical office workers tend to lose a lot of productivity by ‘context switching.’

If we keep switching to something new every few minutes, it takes time for our minds to readjust to a new task. Working for say five hours you may only be productive for half that time because you are always switching back and forth.

Working in 25 minutes slots without distraction and then taking a five-minute breaks, is suggested to help. To successfully embrace this technique, close tabs on your computer, hide your phone and let colleagues know that you shouldn’t be interrupted.

Encourage interaction

Promote interaction among workers by creating “collision” points throughout the office. For example, the water cooler, coffee machine and lift are all places of natural convergence where employees share information and connect over ideas.

For many clients we create sitting areas and perches near these natural collision points to encourage formal discussions between workers, so they can sit and chat for awhile.

To encourage further collaboration, employers can set up meetings or mixers. It is perhaps seen as old fashioned in the age of work team collaboration tools like Slack, but getting to know your colleagues face to face is still a powerful way for people to develop working relationships easily and organically.

Linda Trim is the Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap.

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