Productivity is a common goal for most businesses. Higher productivity usually translates to higher employee satisfaction, more cost efficiency, and eventually, a more successful company. However, the conventional methods of boosting productivity—i.e., directly influencing employees to work harder—aren’t always enough to see your true potential. You can set higher goals for your employees, or encourage them to follow procedures more closely in their performance reviews, but ultimately, there’s a limit to how much you can influence directly.
To complement those direct efforts, you need to work to establish a more productive atmosphere. In other words, you need to make changes to the ambiance and conditions of your office environment that naturally encourage your employees to be more productive.
So how can you do this?
Changing the Atmosphere
These are just a few of the ways you can boost productivity through environmental changes:
1. Establish cleaner air. First, try to clean up the air in your office. Offices tend to get stuffy, since they’re circulating and reusing the same air, over and over. You may not even notice the quality of the air slowly declining, making it harder for people to breathe and influencing the onset of things like asthma and respiratory problems. Even a simple procedural change, like switching out your air filters more often, can improve the quality of your air; it’s highly cost-efficient, so you might as well try it.
2. Allow some personalization. You can also make employees feel more at home, and happier about coming to work if you allow them some degree of personalization. For example, you might give them permission to decorate their desks, walls, or offices with personal effects as they see fit, or you might give them full control over what music gets played on certain days of the week.
3. Play music at a low to moderate volume. Speaking of music, make sure there’s some playing throughout your office throughout the day. Though employee preferences vary, there’s empirical evidence to suggest that music at a low to moderate volume can actually improve focus and productivity. The type of music that’s playing has a big impact, however, so make sure you rotate through different styles and artists so everyone gets a taste of their favorites.
4. Experiment with scents. There’s also evidence to show that certain scents can make us more productive—but not for the reasons you might suspect. Rather than tricking our minds into working harder, pleasant scents simply put us in a better mood due to their associative qualities, which indirectly leads to an increase in productivity. You can use candles, incense, or other aroma dispersers to spread scents like peppermint or lavender throughout the office.
5. Include more plants. A wide range of research demonstrates that more plants in an office can make people both happier and more productive. The reason behind this association isn’t exactly clear—it may be that it makes the office more interesting, or might be that the plants remind us of nature, and nature makes us happy. Either way, a small investment to have more plants in the office could make everyone work better.
6. Hang art on the walls. Finally, consider hanging more art on the walls. It’s going to make your office feel more comfortable and more interesting to both your employees and any clients or partners who visit you. Plus, it can be the perfect inspiration for creative brainstorming. Just make sure the art you get accurately reflects your image as a brand.
The Importance of Experimentation
You should be aware that the above suggestions aren’t meant to be surefire ways to make everyone in your office more productive. In fact, some of your employees may resent some of the changes you make, and end up less productive for them. Naturally, every worker has different working styles and preferences.
If you want to find success, you need to introduce these changes gradually and talk to your employees about how they make them feel. Through trial and error, you’ll find the perfect combination of features to keep your workforce motivated, hardworking, and happy.