Getting more bang for your buck when it comes to employee productivity is the holy grail of managers everywhere. Here are some useful ways to maximize productivity in the office, based on what your employees can do to reduce stress, without having to break the bank!
1. Reduce Background Noise
Even so-called ‘quiet’ rooms feature noises: from the buzz of fluorescent lights, the hum of passing cars, and the fan on a desktop computer. In an office environment, this also includes the sound of the copier and the murmur of conversation. Studies have shown that kids who are exposed to low-level noise growing up have higher blood pressure and are much more prone to than those who are not – and this just isn’t limited to children. Adults exposed to significant background noise throughout their lifetimes can suffer symptoms including high blood pressure, strokes, immune disorders and suicidal tendencies. Consider noise-cancelling headphones to screen out this low-level disruption.
2. De-Stress at Your Desk
Spreadsheet making you grind your teeth? Clients from hell acting up? An active de-stressing program can help to smooth the rough waters of workplace frustration. Some of these are slightly ridiculous, but try the following when you are unable to get out and go for a run and are glued to the office furniture:
- Wriggle: promote circulation in your body by wriggling your toes, fingers and nose.
- Blank out: stare at a spot on the wall for a full minute. Completely give yourself over to the process and commit to clearing your mind by doing absolutely nothing.
- Massage your ears: softly knead the pressure points of your lobes with both hands while letting your head drop.
- Find a hilarious screen saver: smiling is good for the soul and will help to calm you in stressful situations. Side-splitting cat gifs or silly comics are a good bet. It’s childish but effective.
- Draw a messy picture: let your overwhelmed mind indulge in mindless activity by putting your pen on the paper and not lifting it up for an entire minute.
- Play dramatic music: whether classical or pop, pick something with a strong beat and proudly play it through your headphones.
- Peel an orange: notice how the rind of the orange feels between your fingers as you attempt to peel it in one unbroken coil.
3. Turn Out the Lights
This tip isn’t particularly useful during office hours (unless all your employees are blind), but it’s a useful one for them to ponder late at night. The human brain isn’t evolved to deal with the 21st century’s omnipresent light levels 24 hours a day. And melatonin production in the brain, which is crucial for good sleep (and therefore mood regulation), is affected by light levels in the room when you try to sleep. So make sure you get enough rest by using blackout blinds where you can, as well as ensuring that all those electronic devices with their pesky blue LEDs are turned off.
4. Stand and Deliver
Sitting down all day is pretty bad for us humans: a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease and many other illnesses, so finding ways to keep active at work is of increasing importance. One way to do this is by using standing desks, as keeping yourself active and upright throughout the day is better for alertness and can improve productivity. If you have an adjustable height workstation, you can also vary the postures you’re in during the day to prevent putting too much pressure on various parts of your body, which may cause lasting damage.
5. Turn Off Your Smartphone
Smartphones are incredibly useful pieces of equipment that have taken over our lives in every way imaginable. The biggest problem with them is that everyone with one is now expected to be on call 24/7 from absolutely everything in the world. Managing your smartphone habits sensibly is difficult, but will lead to huge reductions in stress as you are able to take a timeout from the latest baby picture on Facebook or Snapchat of your favourite cat – or more seriously, from work emails that pop up asking on your progress on the project you’ve been unable to make any headway with because you keep having to answer emails asking why you’re not making any headway with it. Mute your notifications for a while and get into a focused zone, and the amount of stress will decrease exponentially.
6. Work Smarter
Coming up with smart strategies to reduce stress means that you will have to spend less time performing the activities in point #2. ‘Chunking’ is one: break your task list into smaller chunks and tackle each task one at a time. Then you’ll finish your new tasks more quickly, which will make you feel more productive and less stressed. Also, prioritize! Deal with tough tasks immediately, and save yourself from stressing and worrying about them. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you don’t know how to do something; it will prevent you spending a huge amount of time trying to figure it out and driving you mad with worry. There will always be someone willing to help!