Best Place to Work: 5 ways to improve your workplace and increase productivity

Best Place to Work


Best Place to Work: 5 ways to improve your workplace and increase productivity

It’s no secret, we spend most of our waking hours at work or doing work-related activities. Employees are spending more time with their colleagues than their own families, so making your workplace a comfortable, productive, and efficient space is essential to improve business performance. Even with vast improvements in technology, a Bureau of Labor Statistics Study shows that only a small percentage (approximately 17%) of employees work remotely.

This does not mean you need to invest in new buildings, new break rooms, rotating desks, treadmill desks, or any other Google-esque design. However, it does mean leadership must invest the time to understand the needs of employees and make necessary adjustments. The following tips are just a few ways to create a more appealing work environment that increases productivity.

Balance transparency with privacy.


Transparency is the new buzzword. Firms that are “transparent” have teams that are more open, accountable, and share ideas more freely. But, the reality is, transparency does not always mean better. Privacy is just as important for success. According to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, workplace satisfaction and engagement were found deeply connected to a sense of control over one’s environment. This means teams preferred control over their privacy such as social, technological, and spatial use. It’s a balancing act. Too much transparency can cause employees to feel exposed – can you say “Big Brother?” However, too little, and firms risk stifling creativity and collaboration. Developing a culture that embraces both organizational transparency and personal privacy is the key to success.

Create open and closed spaces.


The concept of the open office space has become a dominant design over the last several years with the notion that it fosters a culture of collaboration and learning. Open floor plans mean departments are no longer shut off from each other and employees can freely communicate. However, similar to views on privacy, employees need to feel like they have their own personal space. In the same study, 98% of the most highly engaged employees reported that they had “the ability to concentrate easily” in their workplace, and rated that as one of the top reasons for workplace satisfaction. An open office space can make it difficult for some to find private spaces to concentrate. For the most productive office, make sure your teams have areas of privacy, as well as sections where they can collaborate and share ideas.

Embrace technology, but keep it personal.


Technology has changed the structure of offices around the world. Not only are we in constant communication with one another, i.e. email, mobile devices, instant messenger, and social media, but we also have the ability to communicate from just about anywhere. Embrace technology. Consider allowing your teams the opportunity to login remotely on occasion. Be flexible if and when possible. Invest in the right tools. However, it is important to communicate with your teams that while digital tools can increase productivity and reduce redundancy, they should be used as tools for business improvement, not to replace personal touch. Stress the importance of face-to-face communication. Embrace technology, but keep business personal.

Continuously coach and evaluate.


We’ve discussed the importance of constant feedback on many occasions, particularly for Millennials. (See Breaking the Stereotype: Developing Loyal Millennials for more information.) Improved performance demands a leadership style of continuous guidance and coaching. Give them feedback on specific tasks as soon as possible. Don’t rely on annual reviews to correct performance. Use periodic and annual reviews to evaluate performance and discuss specific improvements needed. Reviews are great opportunities to evaluate growth. Set your teams up for success through a process of continuous feedback.

Set specific rules for workplace behavior.



Finally, to improve your workplace, implement specific rules that foster a better work environment, such as rethinking dress codes, designating specific times for quiet work, and requiring headphones for music. These rules will help develop a stronger culture and a more positive workplace dynamic. Be aware of cultural behaviors adopted by employees that stem from these policies such as closed doors meaning do not disturb or certain areas designated as social sections (think coffee room and lobby). Leadership should be aware of cultural norms - both positive and negative - that enhance or detract from workplace satisfaction.

To improve your workplace, balance is key. Find the right balance for your team in terms of transparency, openness, feedback, and policies. Once you do, your team will become more productive, efficient, and successful.  


BONUS: 3 Quick Tips to Improve Your Office Environment

  • Set your office temperature between 70-73 degrees. The majority of research shows that offices between these temperatures provide for maximum productivity.
  • Open blinds, curtains, or remove objects that may be blocking natural light. Offices with more natural light and even a few plants are reported to increase workplace comfort.
  • Designate certain times to check email. Teams often get distracted from priority work due to the constant flow of emails. Try setting a policy to only check email certain times throughout the day.