8 Unusual yet Affordable Ways to Help Boost Productivity in the Office
Written by: Joanah Gamboa
You’ve probably heard of naked yoga, nude beaches, and maybe even the naked kitchen. But what about the naked office?
The Bold Italic, a San Francisco-based online magazine, claimed to have conducted a social experiment in which participants worked completely in the nude. The scheme was intended to boost workplace morale and productivity by encouraging employees to be comfortable in their own skin, literally. Unsurprisingly, the “naked” revolution (for lack of a better term) attracted widespread public attention and inspired both admiration and ridicule.
A few days later, TBI confessed that the event was a fabrication concocted for April Fools’ Day. Nevertheless, TBI spawned a debate on the perks of working au naturel and whether it’s high time for contemporary companies to adopt the naked office.
Working in the buff, of course, represents an extreme solution to addressing subpar productivity. Concerns over worker output are nonetheless very real. Startups and large corporations alike have experimented with a variety of techniques to maximize workforce productivity. To the relief of most, these methods do not involve stripping bare and often involve fun, creative schemes.
Here are eight quirky techniques to get the best out of employees.
1. Bring “Spot” to the office
Separate surveys conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association and Central Michigan University suggest that workplace pets improve office morale. Employees working in the midst of furry companions exhibited greater trust in their colleagues. They also displayed a superior ability to work in teams.
The surveys’ findings are supported by real life examples. Pet-friendly companies such as Japan’s Ferray Corporation and America’s Build-a-Bear Workshop found that the presence of pets increased creativity, reduced stress and absenteeism, and improved communication between colleagues.
Members of Generation Y, who constitute a plurality of the American workforce, are also more attracted to companies with pets. Corralling critters into your office could enhance your appeal with prospective recruits.
2. Green up your workplace
Plants in the office also cleanse the air. Research shows that plant-filled rooms contain 50-60% fewer airborne bacteria than rooms without plants. They thus reduce employee sickness and other maladies like high blood pressure. Moreover, greens are natural sound-barriers — they reduce noise by 5 decibels—contributing to a quieter, more peaceful workplace.
3. Play some music
Allow your employees to shake off their stress by listening to music.
A study conducted by Canada’s University of Windsor found out that music can create a positive mood in the office. It further showed that music enhances creativity and free-thinking abilities. Another study revealed that music is effective in improving efficiency, especially if the task is repetitive.
Some find this practice undermines communication amongst employees, especially if they’re using headphones. This can be avoided by banning or limiting the use of headsets in your office. Instead, set up an amplifier and assign an employee to be the “playlist master”. The music, of course, should be agreed upon by all employees.
4. Spice up your office interior
Entrepreneurs may not prioritize interior design, but its importance must not be discounted. Colorful and creative workspaces are proven to be places conducive for efficiency. Recently, open spaces with unique interior set-up have become popular settings that inspire productivity.
You may not reach Pallotta Teamworks’ and Epic’s levels of awesome yet, but do your best with the available resources. Create a company culture of resourcefulness and artistry, one that inspires creativity and fun. Start with the essentials: cabinets, chairs, and tables. Even if you only have the basics, you can allow employees to rearrange the office as they please. Allowing them to decorate the office walls can also go a long way towards enhancing the mood. Nike, for example, allows employees to doodle and sketch on the walls, much to their satisfaction.
Lastly, permit your employees to sit wherever they want. Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper has his “spot” — specifically the left side of his couch — and it’s where he’s most productive.
5. Encourage reading and book sharing
Set up a book club for your company, even if only a couple of your employees are bibliophiles. This way, less-read employees will be encouraged to read more and engage in discussions with others. You can set up a little library in your office and stock them with books. Your bookish employees may also be willing to share books and exchange them with co-workers. This will also promote a culture of critical thinking — one that encourages sharing of new perspectives and ideas.
6. Bond over Food
Everyone loves food. It should be no surprise that it’s an effective medium for developing camaraderie amongst employees.
Treat your company to lunch or dinner once in awhile — especially if you have beaten a deadline or secured a new contract. You can also schedule a potluck day on which employees bring food to the office. Moreover, encourage your employees to eat lunch together outside the office. Research reveals that eating meals together relaxes employees. Another study concluded that eating lunch on your desk increases stress and limits creativity.
7. Ditch the dress code
Working in your birthday suit may be a bit too extreme, but ditching the suit and tie for more comfortable attire can go a long way towards improving employees’ happiness. Aside from freeing them from the hassles formal attire brings, permitting workers to dress casually also suggests you respect their choices and value their individuality. This can increase morale and company satisfaction.
8. Introduce nap time
Studies show that power naps enhance productivity. Employees given time to rest are more productive than those who are forced to work even when their brains are too tired to function. Some companies, like Google, have “nap pods” where employees take afternoon naps. Companies that can’t afford this luxury can allow workers to doze off under their tables or in their office sofas. In place of naps, other offices permit employees to play pingpong, eat snacks, take a walk, chat, or just have a moment of silence.
The bottom line: allow your employees to take a rest from their usual task. You’ll win the affection of your subordinates and at the same time improve their capacity to work well.
Resource-constrained startups need to do everything possible to maximize workforce productivity. Thankfully, this can be achieved through a variety of quirky, inexpensive techniques that do not involve stripping bare. Sometimes all it takes is a nice lunch or some office pups to draw out your employee’s best. Small yet meaningful actions often yield the greatest rewards.