What impact does the working environment have on productivity?

Workplace design
office productivity

Businesses will go to extraordinary lengths to get the very best out of their best assets - its people. Some are happy to offer money, cars and lavish gifts in exchange for loyalty and productivity, while others prefer to apply some more creative thinking to the formula.

In fact, a MusicWorks campaign by music licensing organisations PPL and PRS for Music survey revealed that 77% of businesses say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and improves the atmosphere.

Whether it's music or money, holiday or flexible hours, do you know what boosts productivity at your organisation?

One thing we can be sure of is that the working environment has a direct impact on employee productivity and morale, so it makes perfect sense to generate a workspace that is conducive to the wellbeing of the workforce.

Of course, the measures taken will vary according to industry sector and the type of work being carried out. Manual workers and office-based employees will have different needs, but the four key steps to creating a good office environment that are outlined below can be applied to all workforces.

For example, whether an employee is lifting heavy loads all day on the factory floor or working late at a top law firm in the City it is likely that they will appreciate a space to crash out and take a break. As we outline below air quality, music lighting and the natural environment can all be used to create a more harmonious working environment, which enables employees to work harder, efficiently and more effectively.

Air quality

The importance of air quality should not be overlooked as it can have a significant effect on employees' general sense of wellbeing. Did you know that poor air quality can affect an individual's concentration and reduce energy levels? It is worth checking that the air conditioning systems are working properly, and not dehydrating workers. It is also worth bearing in mind one simple fact: the more oxygen that goes to the brain, the more effectively it will work.

Lighting and plants

In winter we experience low levels of daylight, which means that the vitamin D in our bodies is rock bottom. This can make us depressed and weaken our immune systems, which will obviously negatively affect the ability to carry out work effectively. It is important for office employees who are inside all day to have access to natural light. If there are a lack of windows SAD lamps can be used to compensate for the reduced exposure workers are getting to sunlight. The right lighting will make employees calmer, positive and more creative. If the office is in the middle of a city and has no view other than the identical building opposite, plants can be used to connect employees to a more natural environment.

Music

Music might not be suitable for all workplaces, but, as mentioned earlier, its ability to motivate and energise staff should not be dismissed. The MusicWorks research also showed that 65% of owners of small and medium sized businesses say music in their workplace makes employees more productive and 40% believe that it can increase sales or results for the business.

Changing rooms

Providing proper changing rooms and showers for employers will encourage people at work to take exercise, whether that's cycling to work, heading for a run at lunchtime or setting up an after work five-aside football team. It sounds simple, but actually, just by putting the facilities in place you can transform the working environment and create a healthy buzz. What is more, providing these facilities will help employees to manage their work-life balance more effectively. Working hours are increasing, so those trips to the gym after work are becoming less and less frequent. If staff can exercise as part of their commute or at lunchtime, the line between work and home becomes less defined. Remember, fit and healthy employees are less likely to take time off sick and more likely to be energetic and motivated. And, when you consider that in 2009, sickness absence cost the UK economy £16.8bn (Confederation of British Industry), investing in a workplace that generates healthy, stress-free employees, is something of a no-brainer.