There’s a huge difference between being busy and being productive. Completing a lot of work tasks in a given amount of time doesn’t necessarily make you productive. In fact, experts say the more hours you put in the less productive you’re going to be in the short and long run. Being productive has less to do with time management and more to do with calibrating your energy in order to get the greatest amount of work done in the shortest of time.
But as simple as it may seem to start working smarter and be more productive at work, it’s also fairly easy to fall prey to the countless distractions that can kill productivity in the office. Here are the top four obstacles to maximizing performance at work and simple furniture solutions to help you overcome them.
For some, clutter may breed creativity, and a disorderly environment can indeed stimulate the mind and help produce fresh insights. Most office workers, however, find their messy desk to be the source of low work performance, low energy levels, and wasted time. Moreover, scientists are learning that an unorganized desk also has a significant negative impact on the physical and emotional health of individuals, increasing stress and anxiety, strengthening procrastination, weakening organizational and decision-making skills, and depleting energy levels through its overwhelming presence.
Potential solution: Introduce smart office storage solutions that helps you sort and organize all documents and stationery. Consider wall shelves, storage cabinets, drawer units, cabinets and sideboards, and bookcases to always keep important files at hand.
#2. Non-Ergonomic Desk Chairs
Few things are as important for workers’ work performance, emotional health, and physical state as their office desk chair. Although anatomically-correct furniture has made its way into most office environments in the country, there are still places where workers have to sit at simple wooden desks on metal chairs for hours on end. And while the consequences may not be obvious right away, prolonged sitting on non-ergonomic office furniture can wreak havoc on one’s health, causing anything from lifelong back problems, chronic shoulder pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome to poor-quality sleep and overall decreased quality of life.
Potential solution: By choosing furniture that adapts to each unique individual’s build and needs, office managers can rapidly increase workplace performance and enhance worker satisfaction, in turn increasing employee retention rates and, eventually, ROI.
#3. Frequent Interruptions
Everyone experiences workday interruptions, and while some are necessary and sometimes even desirable, most are, and it’s now scientifically proven, productivity-sapping, impairing workers’ focus, decreasing their concentration and flow, and lowering the quality of work. The most common disruptions are caused by co-workers, as tempting as it may be to point out to social media, email, or instant messaging. Research has linked frequent interruptions, which are greatly facilitated by the lack of private offices and cubicle walls in the open-plan space, to stress-induced health problems, higher exhaustion rates, and decreased work performance (workers who were constantly interrupted made twice as many mistakes as workers who were able to focus on their task).
Potential solution: Office partitions and space dividers provide separate work areas free of distractions without minimizing the office square footage. Partition walls such as those from furniture manufacturer Steelcase can be changed with employees’ changing needs and offer the desired level of both audio and visual privacy.
#4. Office Noise
Outside noise, background noise, and overheard conversations are not only annoying to those trying to focus on their work, but downright harmful to employees’ ability to focus, workplace productivity, and privacy and security. Whether it’s phones ringing, colleagues talking on the phone or to each other, heavy room traffic, or office equipment, such noisy distractions can have a negative impact on workers’ performance, making it harder for them to focus on their work and be productive.
Potential solution: While headphones, white noise machines, and ear plugs can serve as temporary remedies to help individuals tune out background noises, office managers can achieve greater results by installing sound-absorbing acoustical panels and partition walls that trap sound and prevent it from reflecting further off of surfaces in the office.
Since there are only so many hours in a workday, the only solution to increase workplace productivity is to identify and then eliminate the things that waste your workers’ time and drain their energy. Talk to your local furniture provider to find out how you can mitigate productivity killers at work and avoid their financial toll on your business.
Lynne Lemieux, Founder and President of Alliance Interiors Inc., has devoted more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing growth opportunities for some of Canada's leading office furniture dealers. Her ability to provide clients with inspiring and versatile interior solutions for both business and home office environments has garnered her title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year in the city of Toronto for 2012. In her spare time, Lynne takes an active interest in politics, public speaking, and philanthropy, but also enjoys gardening, interior decorating, cooking, yoga, and traveling.