Happiness tends to go hand in hand with productivity.
Why this should be so might seem obvious: workers who are comfortable are better able to concentrate more on the task in hand, rather than whatever it is that’s bothering them.
Since employers aren’t totally in control of their worker’s lives, it’s impossible for them to totally ensure that those workers are happy. But we can ensure that life in the office is as easy and comfortable as possible – and thereby eliminate unnecessary misery, and ensure superior productivity. Let’s examine some typical areas of improvement…
If you’re suffering from pain as a result of postural problems, then you’ll be unable to get quite the same amount of work done.
There’s an enormous amount of research indicating that the trend toward sedentary office work is driving an uptick in back pain and other related discomforts – so much so that the word ‘ergonomic’ has become common (and sometimes dreaded) currency in offices across the land.
But even those who haven’t yet suffered pain should benefit from working in comfort. Workers who spend hundreds of hours every year sat at a desk will likely prefer a seat that provides good support, comfort and adjustability.
And it isn’t just at our computers where these concerns come into play. When sitting in a meeting, workers tend to prefer a more relaxed environment – at least, according to a survey carried out by furniture manufacturer Allermuir.
While a place to sit and focus on a task is important, so too is variety – and so equipping a meeting room with sofas might be worth considering (if the culture in your office can cope with the shock).
Improved keyboards and mice
If your job involves typing and clicking on icons all day, then you’ll want devices that make these tasks as easy and pleasurable as possible.
For typists and writers, a mechanical keyboard will do this capably; each key will depress with a satisfying clunk, and typing with feel significantly better. What’s more, your office will quickly fill with the click-clack typewriter sound of mechanical keys – which has been linked with an increase in productivity. So much so, in fact, that even high-profile newspapers have experimented with playing typewriter sounds over a large loudspeaker.
Bigger monitors (and more of them)
The more screen real-estate your employees have to work with, the less time they’ll spend flicking between the windows – and the less information they’ll have to store into short term memory. This translates directly into less stress.
Upgrading from a 19” monitor to a 27” one will provide workers with more than twice as much screen space – meaning that they’ll be able to see everything at a glance.
Equipping a workstation with multiple monitors will have the same effect – and it might end up cheaper in the long run. Having an email inbox open on one monitor, a word processor on another, and a spreadsheet on a third means that your workers will spend less of their day searching for the relevant piece of information, and more of it turning that information into results.
The average workers gets 15 minutes more work done a day when moving from one monitor to two. This doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to well over a week of extra work every year per employee.
Affording employees the ability to adjust the brightness of their monitors will help them to work in comfort – without having to squint or wear sunglasses.
By the same token, if your workers are having to deal with intolerable slowness, lock-ups and blue screens, they’ll quickly become frustrated and stressed. There are few things more likely to produce anger than a loss of control – and a slow computer that can’t keep up will produce exactly that. An upgrade may well solve these problems – particularly if workers are dealing with demanding video and audio-editing software.
Inadequate lighting is almost certain to produce feelings of misery – particularly during winter, when natural light is less plentiful. Investing in the right sort of office lighting – the sort that’s powerful enough to fill the space, and yet not so powerful that your employees are blinded, is sure to do exactly that. Super-bright LED lighting has never been more affordable; so if you’re looking for a way to boost your interior – and make your employees more productive in the process – investing in a new desk-lamp or two, or replacing your overhead lighting, makes a great deal of sense.
Employee recognition software
Companies which recognise good performance and reward it – even if that reward is just a polite acknowledgement – demonstrably perform better than those which don’t. And now, there are a myriad of competing software platforms, each eager to help get the job done – and allowing workers to see just how they’re doing compared with everyone else. Some software even allows employees to reward one another with kudos.
Of course, it’s important to use software like this cautiously, as you might be incentivising negative behaviour as well as positive ones. You don’t want to create a demoralising rat race, or encourage your work force to lavish undeserved kudos upon one another. That said, employment recognition software is well worth investigating – just be sure to use it judiciously.
Working from home
Improving technology isn’t just at work in the office – it’s changing every facet of our lives. Working from home has never been more practicable – particularly for those whose jobs involve an enormous amount of computer-work. With the help of the internet, the mobile phone, and all of the various apps that go with both, it’s possible to be just as productive – and just as easily reached – whether you’re at home or work.
If an employee has the discipline and drive to get their work done, there’s no reason to force them to come into the office – and allowing them to work a day or so at home will help to slash transport costs, demonstrate trust, and give your employee a break from the stressors of office life.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that technology will render the modern office obsolete – face-to-face contact is a valuable means of getting information across, and will remain so until Skype come up with something truly revolutionary!
Any worthwhile technology should make the world a slightly better place. In the workplace, better tools will help to relieve stress, boost satisfaction, and get things done all the more quickly and effectively. Sensible upgrades in key areas can thereby help to ensure the happiest and best work environment possible.