More Than Meets the Eye: How to Increase Employee Productivity in a Small Business

For many years, the workplace was more about function than form. But as more research has revealed the impact of the work environment on employee productivity and happiness, businesses of all sizes are taking note.

One of the biggest challenges in today’s workplace is that the work people do — and how they do it — has changed. However, according to Living Office, a Herman Miller company that helps companies and organizations develop workspaces designed to fit the needs and personalities of employees, many offices have not adjusted to meet these changes. .

For instance, in the modern workplace, collaboration is key. A personal connection to work and a sense of purpose help drive creativity, so it’s important for business owners to create a space that supports those things.

Connecting Workspaces and Productivity

The connection between work environment and productivity is so strong that, in 2017, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) partnered with Cornell University, Delos and the Innovative Workplace Institute to conduct a comprehensive study on how different elements in an office space influence output and creativity. Their findings provide a blueprint of sorts for companies that want to create an environment that nurtures highly productive employees.

“Office design is incredibly important to optimize productivity,” says productivity expert Jeff Sanders, author of “The Free Time Formula.”

“Poor lighting, uncomfortable office chairs, or simply a feeling of discomfort can lead to distractions, procrastination, and poor performance.”

As a small-business owner wondering how to increase productivity of employees, you can implement some of the essential elements identified in the ASID survey without having to revamp your entire annual budget. Here’s a look at some of the key factors in creating a workplace layout that nurtures productivity — and simple solutions for your own business.

Comfort Is Key

It makes sense that comfortable employees are more effective, but what that means from one person to the next can vary. This is particularly true in workplaces where different generations are working, so your environment should reflect the needs of your individual employees. Living Office accomplishes this by suggesting different spaces for people to work and gather in.

In your business, consider employee comfort on an individual level, and make sure that there is a range of seating and workspace options. For an intergenerational workplace, consider renting office furniture that combines traditional and contemporary pieces to create a space that is both visually inviting and comfortable for employees. As your needs change, so can the furniture.

Design for Downtime

Today, both the science and business industries recognize the value of downtime in productivity. The Energy Project, a consulting firm that identifies workplace challenges and solutions, reports that “intermittent renewal” — a.k.a. downtime — is essential to prevent overwork and burnout and to heighten productivity.

“People need to work in rhythms to optimize health and productivity,” Sanders explains. “You dig in and do your hard work, then take breaks to collect your thoughts before tackling the next task or project.”

Business owners who provide a time and space for breaks can reap the rewards of boosted productivity. Create a lounge area for your employees, but consider experimenting with temporary furniture before making the commitment of a long-term purchase. Rent lounge furniture for six to 12 months, and see how employees respond.

Get Back to Nature

Research shows that nature has many healing effects, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate, but it’s also great for productivity. Looking at nature — even for just a minute or two — can help reset focus and improve workplace performance, according to the Harvard Business Review.

And it’s not just the greenery that’s gratifying. Sunshine is a proven mood-booster and helps improve focus and mental outlook.

“Having consistent access to natural light and fresh air can provide tremendous boosts to employee health and productivity all day long,” Sanders says. “It’s difficult to stay focused or energized if you find yourself stuck indoors too often without access to the natural world.”

What can you do? Situate desks and workstations in areas with the most windows for plenty of sunlight. If you have an outdoor space, then make it inviting with benches, tables, and some attractive landscaping.

If your space has no windows or little outdoor access, but you still want to give your employees that back-to-nature mood and productivity boost, then bring nature inside. Researchers have found that even looking at pictures of nature is beneficial, so consider adding art that brings the outdoors in. Then decorate with plants and trees that keep the green theme growing — and the productivity flowing.

Remember Offsite Options

The growth of technology has allowed for much more telecommuting than in the past. Numerous studies, including research from the Society for Human Resource Management, have shown that offsite employees are more productive than their in-office co-workers and are less likely to take time off.

By providing telecommuting workers with a stipend that allows them to rent their home office furniture, you can ensure that they have everything they need to maintain their productivity from afar.

Today’s workplace has changed, but if you change with it, you can have highly productive employees. See what CORT Furniture Rental can do to help your small business improve your space.