Most human resources departments focus on improving workplace productivity through positive employee relations. When your employees work together under a series of well-meaning guidelines, they can create a more efficient workplace overall.
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But productivity can be affected by a variety of external and internal factors. The workplace atmosphere, office layout, temperature, company goals, and management can all enhance or minimize employee productivity. Improving communication and productivity among your employees can be as simple as making a few changes in these areas.
1. Adjust the Lighting
Many offices use soft lighting that can actually diminish concentration. Soft lighting is relaxing, which can make workers feel sleepy or distracted. It's also dimmer, which can cause squinting and tension headaches due to eye strain.
The best way to improve the lighting in an office is by letting more natural light in. However, if that's not an option for your setup, use compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. These are not only more energy efficient but also brighter and more likely to stimulate alertness and productivity.
2. Change the Temperature
It can be hard to choose the perfect temperature for your office. Some people, typically men, prefer the office to be a little cooler, and others, typically women, have a hard time focusing if they don't feel warm and cozy.
Overall, it is believed that warmer environments are better for employee productivity than cooler ones. In one study, the number of typing errors made by employees fell by 44 percent when the office temperature was raised from 68 to 77 degrees!
3. Give Employees the Chance to Express Their Creativity
Innovation is likely happening throughout your organization, but you may not see it because there's no way for employees to share their new ideas. Create a formal program to help employees promote their creative and innovative ideas throughout the office.
For example, you might hold a weekly meeting where employees can share new ideas or brainstorm as a group. You may also consider creating an online idea board where people can discuss and develop new ideas together. Not only will such practices improve your organization overall, but they will also help employees feel more satisfied with their work, and satisfied employees tend to be more productive in general.
4. Perfect the Noise Level
According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), noise level can have a significant impact on organizational productivity. Too much noise disrupts employees' workflows and causes productivity to decline. When it's too quiet, on the other hand, employees often feel uncomfortable.
ASHRAE has found that the optimum noise level for an office is between 49 and 58 decibels (dBA). This estimation includes sounds from things like your HVAC system, the humming of equipment, and employee conversations. To give you an idea of how 49-58 dBA sounds, a whisper is about 34 dBA and a vacuum cleaner is 69 dBA.
If you find it's too quiet in your office, try bringing in a white noise machine. If it's too noisy, post friendly signs and send out memos to remind employees to keep it down.
5. Set Clear Goals and Offer Feedback
If employees know what they're working toward, they'll have a personal stake in their and the company's goals. As a result, they'll be much more likely to work productively.
Whenever goals are set for the team or organization, allow employees to give their input. Whenever a goal has been finalized, clearly state it so everyone is on the same page.
Offer constructive feedback whenever possible. Recognize the accomplishments of those who have pushed particularly hard toward achieving a goal and promptly address failures with constructive criticism. Most people find that it's easier and more gratifying to work with an organization when they know exactly what's expected of them.