Workplace productivity- how to get it.
If you want sparks first provide the kindling.
On Being | prəˈdʌktɪv |
Workplace productivity is a challenging concept to define.
It can mean different things to different people. In ‘traditional’ terms, it was the physically measurable output in workload that meant more was produced.
More, more, more!
As methods of working have evolved, we’ve been able to shift away from the notion that people are merely cogs in an industrial machine, allowing productivity to become more rooted in the idea that individuals can pull together different skill sets into a collective stream to produce a more comprehensive product or service.
Productivity, in effect, is getting the best out of what people can offer.
The problem is when employees feel imbalanced, endure mental health complications, and cannot access the focus they need to give their best. It results in absenteeism, compensation claims, and ineffective organisational capacity. It’s costing Australia $10.9 billion each year and there’s plenty we can be doing to push back against the trend.
Being confined within a building gives us warmth, shelter, and trust. Yet it still confines. Without a connection to the exterior world, we cannot remain tethered to the natural influences that are so critical in our daily experience.
The number one attribute of the workplace, according to research, is access to outdoor view and natural light. Blazing sunshine or misty shrouded days, it doesn’t matter. That connection with the exterior beats organic salads for lunch, creche facilities, and group yoga classes.
Interestingly, access to view may be so critical as a tonic for our ever-increasing dependence upon and use of communications technology. Using a mobile phone creates a period of cognitive disconnect, as you need to focus on the voice at the other end of the line. People are actually pretty average multitaskers, all aspirations aside. Taking a call while not pretending to do something else liberates us to give our attention to that call and complete the task better. Having somewhere distant to focus on literally takes us out of our immediate distraction space and projects our focus away.A similar effect can be attained with appropriately considered workplace art, sited at critical junctures throughout the architecture. A nook in a corridor with nothing but a beautiful coloured panel to stare at is a transporting, meditative act.
This is somewhere else, somewhere very fertile for our focus and imagination.
The Goldilocks Zone
Our planet permits life because it straddles a narrow belt of neither too hot nor too cold. Equally, treating a workspace with a singular prescriptive version of thermal comfort can be alienating to different people.
The Martians among your workforce may enjoy dry, chilled conditions. Somewhere that conveys cleanliness and productivity. The Venusians may err from such sterility and opt for more heat or humidity, the comfort from toes that never cool during extended periods of work.
Either way, a flexible space means that people move themselves around it more to different locations as required. This affords the opportunity to create cooler and warmer zones, some with restrained furniture and others with comfier fabrics, plants, and direct natural light. It’s hugely important to recognize how thermal comfort levels can differ in the workplace and what you can do to remedy the situation.
Studies abound on how to treat enclosed or open spaces, but it’s important to note that we can now make use of monitoring tech to effectively control and modulate subtle differences throughout spaces. Using a Nest or similar net-connected system gives instant insight into microclimatic data while allowing employees to interact easily to modify settings themselves.
Simple Stuff It may sound simple, yet allowing people to choose for themselves is a huge shift from the traditional paradigm of companies choosing how all aspects of their workspaces function. Having no insight into, or control over, comfort levels in a space in which you spend each and every day…that’s a frustration we can do without.
It’s also an easy approach to let people find what works best for them. Sealed office windows and only the humming air conditioning system creates a sense of enforced sterility. It’s unnatural, so it denies us a connection to the natural. Cracking open a window to let cool morning air flow through the space, smelling exterior scents, and simply seeing outdoors are all elementary ways to stimulate senses and help us focus.
Equally, choosing how we use our bodies at work is massively important. Never feeling forced into static postures, while being able to recline, stand, or stretch during work promotes self-awareness and is simply healthier. Better ambient health endows improved focus, increasing the chances for productivity to blossom.
Perhaps the problem has simply been our notion of ‘showing up’ for work. If people are not encouraged to feel invested in what they do, there’s little chance of feeling invested in the places they work. If employers truly value the talents their employees bring to the table, then let them use spaces in a more fluid manner.
Finding how to foster a sense of occupant ‘ownership’ in as much as employees can modify spaces to their needs, this is key to building a culture of productivity based on employee comfort.
Superior Ergonomics, comfort and natural connection.