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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

More by this author

Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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