Indian employees at a call centre provide service support to international customers, in the southern city of Bangalore March 17, 2004. The hiring frenzy at call centres in India is the flip side of daily tales pouring out of the US and Britain, where thousands of software and back-office jobs are being cut as companies take advantage of cheap communications offshore to drive down costs. India is the undisputed leader of emerging markets to which developed economies are outsourcing high-technology jobs, IT consultancy firm Gartner said in a report released on Wednesday. The $3.6 billion industry in India is seen rocketing to 13.8 billion by 2007 with the number of jobs quadrupling to 1 million. Picture taken March 17, 2004. REUTERS/Sherwin Crasto  SC/

Indian employees at a call centre provide service support to international customers, in the southern city of Bangalore March 17, 2004. The hiring frenzy at call centres in India is the flip side of daily tales pouring out of the US and Britain, ... where thousands of software and back-office jobs are being cut as companies take advantage of cheap communications offshore to drive down costs. India is the undisputed leader of emerging markets to which developed economies are outsourcing high-technology jobs, IT consultancy firm Gartner said in a report released on Wednesday. The $3.6 billion industry in India is seen rocketing to 13.8 billion by 2007 with the number of jobs quadrupling to 1 million. Picture taken March 17, 2004. REUTERS/Sherwin Crasto SC/ (Reuters)

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Is Bad Office Design Hurting Your Productivity?

It’s every employer’s goal to maintain a productive and efficient workforce, but there are many common office habits and factors that can hurt output.

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For example: Can being warmer make you work more effectively? What about the dim lighting that causes you to squint? Bad office design doesn’t just impact your mood, it can also impact productivity.

Work is hard enough, so it’s important to make the office space as comfortable as possible since research has shown that your work environment has an impact on how you function.  

Lighting

Lighting is one of the largest energy costs of a building. Research has shown bad lighting can cause eye-strain and fatigue, which ultimately leads to more mistakes and decreased productivity. Lighting company Phillips has done research showing that simply raising light levels in an office increased productivity 8% and decreased accidents by 52%.

Access to natural light is also critical, particularly when it comes to distinguishing colors. Research has shown that exposure to daylight vs. artificial light enhances alertness and cognitive functioning.

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Takeaway:  A mix of compact florescent bulbs with dimmer switches and natural light is best, so put your workspace near a window!      

Color

 Office walls are often bland and uniform… as in white or grey. Research has long shown that color affects mood and productivity, and that white or grey can be un-motivating. Different colors have different wavelengths, and the level of that wavelength determines how much energy we need to exert to detect it.

If you feel anxious or stressed, low-wavelength colors like blue (calm) and green (restful) will have a calming effect. If you are feeling tired or down a high wavelength color like red (passion) and orange (stimulation) can be stimulating.

Takeaway: paint your office space blue and green and avoid grey.  

Temperature

 When you are wearing coats and scarves at your desk and it’s 90 degrees outside you have a problem.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends offices maintain temps from 68 to 76.  However, research out of Cornell found that when the temperature of an office was raised from 68 to 77 degrees typing errors fell by 44% and output increased by 150%.

Takeaway: warmer is better…to a point. Raise the temp or drink some hot tea. 

Space

To be productive, you have to be comfortable both physically and psychologically in your office space, so make it your own. 

From a physical or ergonomic perspective, the position of your keyboard, screen and chair all make a difference in how you function and the level of fatigue you will likely experience. Carpal tunnel and neck strain are common office problems. The key is to sit dynamically and avoid being stationary for long periods. Posture is important, so make sure your seating position isn’t causing your strain (105 degree tilt, feet flat on floor, knees lower than thighs…). 

From a psychological perspective, be sure to personalize your space and really make it your own. You want to feel connected and inspired by your space. I keep little knickknacks that remind me of where I’ve been and where I’m trying to go as inspiration.

Takeaway: Do an audit of your space. Make sure it’s physically comfortable and that you feel at home.

 

 

 

By Dr. Woody Woodward Ph.D.

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is an organizational psychologist, CEC certified executive coach, and founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI). He is author of the Amazon top selling career book The YOU Plan and is currently on faculty at the Institute for Management Studies where he has trained managers from such companies as BOSE, Verizon, and the NBA. Dr. Woody also serves as an advisor to the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year and Entrepreneurial Winning Women programs. He is also a thought leader in the IBM Smarter Workforce Futurist program.

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