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8 Overlooked Things That Are Hampering Your Office Productivity

8 Overlooked Things That Are Hampering Your Office Productivity

Productivity is a state or quality of producing something. Since people are not always the most stable of the beings, productivity is an elusive concept. We go to office and work there day in day out, but simply putting our time and effort without much focus does not always make us actually productive.

To actually be productive, you have to be in a stable state of mind and stay focused in your work. But that’s not always the case. More often than not, there are little factors that are dragging your work rate and actually hampering your productivity. Some of these factors are discussed in this post.

1. Noise

Putting it bluntly, any unrequired incoherent persistent disturbance can be labeled as a noise.

The office machines, chattering co-workers, nearby construction site or trains are the usual suspects when it comes to creating noise inside the office.  Though these may sound trivial, studies have shown these noises have serious implications with office productivity.[1]

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2. Temperature

Temperature is one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to creating an office environment. So it’s easy to grasp why employees persistently complain about the workplace being too hot or too cold.

It’s easy to see the picture; any place that is too hot, too cold or too humid makes the employees feel uncomfortable and reduces their productivity.

A study linked warm offices to fewer typing errors and higher productivity of the workers. The results of the study also suggested that raising the temperature to a more comfortable thermal zone saved the employers about $2 per worker, per hour.[2]

3. Light

It is a wide known fact that working in dark interferes with your eyes and decreases your productivity in the long run. But lighting has effects well beyond that: a study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design indicated that 68 percent of employees complain about the lighting situation in their offices.[3] Two of the most common complaints were that the lights in the office were either too dim or too harsh.

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While selecting lighting arrangements for your office, natural light is the best choice but consider this: an employer’s choice of lighting can have a considerable effect on the productivity of the company.

4. Interruptions

Imagine a situation where an employee is completely immersed in his/her work and out of the blue, a co-worker comes and asks him/her if he/she has a minute and then goes on to ask which color he/she should paint the nursery to? These types of situations are all but frequent in offices.

Time magazine estimates that on an average day, the workers are interrupted about 7 times an hour adding up to 56 times per day and more than 80% of time these interruptions result to mundane discussions.[4] Another research suggests that these interruptions are costing the U.S. economy $588 billion a year.[5]

Using time tracking software and optimizing employee break times can help alleviate the productivity problems due to inane interruptions.

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5. Air

Air is vital to us, yet we tend to overlook its significance. Poor quality air may lead to chronic problems like asthma and bronchitis while minor health problems like headaches, dry throat, runny eyes and respiration problems are frequent.

Research from the Technical University of Denmark concluded that poor indoor air quality in buildings can decrease productivity by as much as 6-9 %.[6] The problems do not stop at employees; even visitors tend to express their dissatisfaction if there is lack of fresh air. U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that around $15 is being lost due to poor indoor air quality.[7]

Maintaining natural air circulation is the key. You should also strategically set up air conditioners so they can circulate fresh air with minimal amount of foreign particles being mixed in it.

6. Office Anatomy

Remember the mantra:  ‘Healthy environment creates happy employees’. Worryingly enough, the opposite is equally true as well. Unhealthy environments create dissatisfied employees. A bad office anatomy plays into the psyche of the workers and creates a mental barrier, which hampers productivity.

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A neatly maintained office anatomy helps to boost the productivity. Use privacy panels for increasing focus of employees and allow natural lights to flow in through the windows to help the workers concentrate more.

7. Tech Problems

There is an old proverb ‘Time is Money’. Consider the time you’re losing because of small tech problems like your computer crashing or the server going down. These days a majority of companies rely on evolving technologies to increase their efficiency but it’s not always the case.

Sometimes working with technology works against your favor, especially if you have little to no experience with it. It wastes a lot of your time with little development. To ensure maximum productivity, experiment with technology that you’re confident you’ll get a hold of.

8. Food

When discussing about office problems, people often tend to completely ignore the problems created by food quality. Employees take snacks during their work time. It helps to fuel their energy levels and helps them stay productive. But not all foods are good for you. A study by Harvard Business Review suggested that misbalance of glucose in sugar is bad for your productivity while consuming too much fat in your food makes you lazy.[8]

Consuming healthy snacks at specific intervals improves your digestion and smoothens your metabolic process to ensure you stay focused on your work, helping to increase your productivity.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via c2.staticflickr.com

Reference

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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