Creating productive environments

Productivity in the UK might be on the up, but we’ve still some way to go.

Workers were more productive at work in the first three months of 2018 compared with the same quarter a year before, according to the Office for National Statistics. Efficiency, in terms of output per hour, grew by 0.9% between January and March 2018.

However, this is noticeably below the long-term trend before 2008 when productivity growth averaged nearly 2% per annum. Many in business and government are still trying to solve the ‘productivity puzzle’.

Hampering productivity

Although there is yet no official explanation for our longer term drop in productivity, there are a range of studies that may offer some clues.

According to more than half of the employers surveyed about distractions at work, smartphones, the internet, social media and emails are among the ten biggest workplace productivity killers.

Next on the list could be open plan working. Around 37% of employers claim that office gossip is their biggest productivity problem, while 27% believe that co-workers chatting is a real issue.

Whatever research may hint at, most organisations need people to work closely together for now, and the open plan office will continue to be a fact of life for many.

How can we work in our existing environments to support better productivity?

Culture and people

Securing a commitment to more output in less time, and creating greater efficiencies, has to start with choosing and motivating the right individuals.

Seeking out people with passion and commitment is just as important as their credentials and experience. By finding out what inspires people, and what they’ve loved doing in the past and want to do in the future, you will help get the right people on board.

Communication

Two-way communication is important. Enabling colleagues to talk openly about what is going well and what isn’t, as well as sharing visions for the business and ideas and updates, can make a big difference.

Employees can be the best people to help work out how to make the organisation more efficient because they’re on the front line. Taking time to speak with everyone and get their ideas could pay dividends.

A productive culture is also one that identifies when changes need to be made and works with people to resolve issues. Workers need to feel safe and trusted and know that they can speak openly without worrying they will be ignored or criticised. Listening is just as important as talking.

Great communication with employees will go a long way to creating more respect and preventing people from feeling disengaged.

Choices

Flexible working policies, including giving people a reasonable say in where and when they work, can be a big benefit for many.

When people are at work, ensuring that their environment is optimised for better working is also important. Where there are open plan spaces, other more secluded ones in the vicinity will give people the chance to work in quiet when they need to.

Interiors and furniture should be planned to create a flexible office space. High backed meeting pods and noise-reduced booths and screens can all play their part in the open plan office.

More employers are beginning to design in quiet spaces, collaboration areas, break out and chill out spaces to help people work more easily and take breaks when they need to.

Break out

Studies have found that breaks can actually increase our motivation and creativity, with even brief diversions from a task helping to dramatically improve our ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.

As well as remembering to take your eyes away from your screen, get up and stretch your legs regularly throughout the day. It is also a good idea to take your lunch break away from the office or at least in a different place to your desk.

‘Every minute counts’

Every minute counts. Making all those ‘day to day’ jobs around the office quicker and easier matters.

Autofeed paper shredders take much less time to use than manual ones. Research shows that people spend 98% less time shredding when they have one to use, according to Intertek Testing & Certification.

Rexel Autofeed Shredders, which can be locked with a code for confidential documents, enable people to put all their no longer needed documents in the top at once, close the lid and walk away.

Upgrading laminators to newer and faster versions can also save a lot of time. GBC Laminators can warm up in 30 seconds as opposed to five minutes, helping people to laminate much more quickly.

Another answer is encouraging employees to organise their workspace so they can locate items more quickly and work more easily. Desk tidies, folders, letter trays and labelling equipment can all prove useful.

Drinks and treats

Good catering supplies can increase motivation and create the feel-good factor.

Consider giving people a great choice of soft and hot drinks, including a quality coffee machine for fresh coffee as well, or instead of, instant coffee granules, herbal teas and fruit juices.

Snacks and treats can make people feel rewarded, with events such as ‘free fruit’ Fridays or selections of chocolates and biscuits all helping to boost morale. 

With Banner you can create a more productive workplace.

Download your FREE Guide to Working Smarter and speak to your account manager to find out more.

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