10 Ways To Improve Office Productivity

When you work in an office, your workday is generally somewhat monotonous – stare at computer, read emails, type, scroll, repeat. Factor this in with the fact that most of us are now working in open offices (which are notoriously hard to focus in), and you can imagine that it’s easy for productivity in the office to drop off sometimes.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the ways you can improve productivity when working in the office.

1. Use ergonomic furniture and sit correctly

Sitting at a desk all day can wreak havoc on your posture. It’s common for office workers, who spend their days hunched over a computer, to suffer from back and neck pain at work – as well as when they get home.

Over time, these effects can develop into long-term chronic conditions. Not only is this bad for your employees, but this can also cause increases in employee absenteeism and lower productivity when people are at work. Meaning it has a negative impact on your bottom line too.

The best way to prevent this is to make sure that your employees are spending their time using comfortable furniture. Ergonomic furniture is designed to support the body’s natural posture; fully adaptable to the person using it, ergonomic furniture allows employees to customise their working experience to suit their needs.

Here at Quills, we provide a wide range of ergonomic furniture suitable for a variety of budgets.

2. Track and limit how much time you’re spending on tasks

Did you know that only around 17% of people can accurately describe the passage of time?

Think about that for a moment. When you have a set amount of tasks to do in a day, how important is knowing how long each will take? Essential. If you think something will take 10 minutes, but it will actually take 30 . . . how many other tasks will get missed out?

The only way to effectively manage your time is to understand how much of it you actually have. Start tracking how much time each task takes you – and limit yourself to spending a set amount of time on certain things. This will help you get more out of your day.

3. Take regular breaks

Productivity for 8 hours straight sounds amazing – but it’s not a reality.

In 2008, a University of Illinois study found that the brain’s cognitive resources drop after a long period of focusing on a single task, decreasing our focus and hindering performance. Breaks act as a mental reset and allow us to come back more focused and productive.

The science behind this is that our brains have two functions; “focused” and “diffuse” mode. Focused is for things like reading, learning and concentrating; diffuse mode is for day-dreaming and relaxing. While on the surface focus mode may seem like the optimal setting . . . “some studies have shown that the mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming—something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower.”

The most productive workers actually take a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes they work.

4. Personalise your office space

Personalising your office space has actually been proven to make your office a happier place to work. Adding some personal touches to your desk, like family photos, is a great way to add some warmth and personality to your workspace.

5. Block out time to respond to emails

One of the largest productivity killers in the modern office? Emails. Everyone will be familiar with the scenario of having to answer so many emails that hours go by . . . but nothing really gets done. In fact, too many emails is the leading cause of lost productivity in the UK.

So the question becomes: how do you gain this time back? You can’t stop answering emails – what if you miss important things? Plus, your coworkers may perceive you as rude.

Give yourself set times to check and respond to emails. Don’t let your email inbox creep into the rest of your work.

6. Leave for lunch

We’ve already spoken about the benefits of taking breaks during the workday – but one essential break you should be taking? Your lunch hour. Eating at your desk has a whole host of unhealthy effects on you – and your productivity.

7. Stop multi-tasking

We are constantly bombarded with things fighting for our attention. On your average desk, think about how many things are sitting there waiting to distract you. Your email inbox, Facebook, Twitter, your phone, Candy Crush, that group chat on WhatsApp, your colleague chatting behind you, the phone ringing . . .

The modern office is not necessarily great for focusing. However, for optimal productivity, you need to resist the urge to flit between tasks and stop multi-tasking. Multi-tasking impairs cognitive function, short-term lowers your IQ – and can even permanently damage your brain.

8. Get enough sleep

This tip may sound obvious, but a surprising number of people don’t actually get enough sleep – something that we all know results in your body not functioning as well as it should be. To keep productive throughout the workday, you need to make sure that your body is rested up and fuelled.

9. Eat the right snacks

Snacking throughout the workday can help you keep your energy levels high and sustained throughout the day, but you need to ensure that you’re eating the right kind of food. It can be tempting to load up on sugar for the quick energy boost; however, sugary foods follow their high with a crash.

Make sure that you’re fuelling your body with the correct foods throughout the day. Here’s a list of healthy office snacks to keep your energy high all day.

10. Add plants to the office

To conclude this post, our last suggestion for improving productivity in the office is the introduction of office plants.

Plants in the office have a multitude of proven benefits. (And those are the best kind!) We’ve written an entire post explaining how plants can boost workplace health, happiness and satisfaction – but the purpose of this post is specifically productivity, so we’ll keep it brief.

Studies have shown that introducing plants to the workplace can improve productivity by as much as 17% – Source

Hopefully this post gave you some inspiration for ways to improve your productivity in the office!

The Stats You Need To Know When Designing Your Office (Infographic)

Sources:

  • 97% of survey respondents stated that they regard their workplace as a symbol of whether or not they are valued by their employer. HR in Asia
  • Pets in the workplace improve employee morale, productivity, and personal workplace satisfaction. – Banfield
  • Multiple computer screens were found to increase productivity up to 50% for employees.CBI Office
  • 67% of employees with access to free food at work are “very” or “extremely” happy at work. – SnackNation
  • Offices see up to 11 per cent gains in productivity from improved ventilation, up to 23 per cent gains in productivity from improved lighting design and significant improvement in employee recruitment and retention as a result of green retrofits. – GreenBuildingPress
  • 25% of survey respondents would be willing to commute an extra 30 minutes to work in their perfect office.What Workers Want
  • 76 percent of millennials, ages 18-34, feel somewhat or very strongly that that office design and aesthetic influences their impression of a company.PR News Wire
  • Adding plants to the office caused a 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety; a 58% drop in depression or dejection; a 44% decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38% reduction in fatigue.CIPHR
  • Only 24% of U.S. workers are in optimal workplace environments. Allwork
  • In international surveys from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase,95% said working privately was important to them. However, less than half (41%) said they could work privately. Worse still, 31% of employees have to leave the office to complete their work. – Quills
  • Employers who can focus are 31% more satisfied, 14% higher performing, and see their companies as more innovative.Allwork
  • Employees lose as much as 86 minutes a day due to noise distractions.The Guardian
  • In environments with white noise, or sound masking, employees report improvements of up to 38 percent for the performance of simple tasks and 27 percent for complex tasks.Hok
  • Studies have shown that in some offices the introduction of sit-stand desks increased productivity by 46%!CNN

5 Ways To Prepare Your Office For GDPR (Infographic)

As of May 25th, the GDPR is now in full effect. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop with all of your GDPR preparations; if anything, it means you need to be triple checking that they’re firmly in place.

When you’re working in an office, there is usually a lot of data floating around – and a lot of potential data breaches. A lot of companies think that their GDPR compliance stops at re-opting in campaigns, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, we’re going to share 5 ways to ensure your office is GDPR compliant.

1. Encrypted USBs

Data will, at times, need to leave the office. People may want to work remotely or files may need to be taken to show to clients. However, data shouldn’t be taken off-site without protection.

Encrypted USBs ensure that all files are securely stored and password protected, meaning that they are inaccessible to the wrong eyes – even if you lose the USB.

We’ve written an entire post detailing the various features of encrypted USBs and their benefits here.

2. Shredders

Most offices will print some form of physical data throughout their opening hours . . . but where do these documents go when you don’t need them anymore? To ensure the data is securely destroyed, you need to invest in shredding. There are solutions available where third parties can come and collect your documents and shred them on your behalf, or (if your office has the budget) you could invest in a secure shredder for your office.

If you’d like to read more about our shredding solutions, feel free to review our full shredding service list.

3. Archiving

Not all data can be destroyed – so you need to figure out a safe and secure way to store data you want to keep. Archiving can be the perfect solution.

Quills provide complete archiving solutions; see if we can help you.

4. Secure Printers

Did you know that printers are one of the office’s most vulnerable openings for hackers? Think about how much confidential data can pass through printers (HR scanning things like passports, faxed documents, printed documents) – just waiting for someone to steal it.

Last year, a viral “prank” made the internet rounds when a hacker tapped into over 150,000 printers and printed ASCII art as a warning to highlight how vulnerable printers are.

Image result for printers hacked

While this hacker had good intentions, many won’t.

We offer “Quills Secure Software“; a print solution that will help to keep your printers secure.

5. Privacy Screens

Have you ever considered visual hacking? It may sound like some sci-fi film tech, but it’s actually happening right now, no tech involved. Visual hacking is just when people are able to look at your screen and read your data – and it happens more often than you’d think.

55% of professionals work in a high-traffic area at least once a week (coffee shop, hotel lounge, library, internet cafe, etc.) where their screens are visible to passers by.

Privacy screens make your screen unreadable to anyone sitting at an angle. You have clear vision of your screen, but anyone sitting next to you will have their sight obstructed.

We hope this brief post gave you some inspiration for ways to tighten your office’s data security. If you’re a customer of ours and are wondering what we can do for you, feel free to get in contact.

Call: 0845 078 0324   Email: sales@quillsuk.co.uk   Live chat: www.quillsuk.co.uk

Should You Allow Dogs In The Office? The Pros and Cons

There has been a wave of “pro-pet” research in recent years. Statistics about dogs in the office reducing stress and increasing productivity have been shared via every major news outlet . . . but is this just another fad? Should you allow your employees to bring dogs in the office, or will you just end up with a larger cleaning bill and chewed wires?

Today, we’re going to be exploring the pros and cons of implementing a pet-friendly policy in your workplace to help you decide.

Positive: Reduces stress

One of the largest benefits of allowing dogs in the office is that studies have shown that they reduce stress.

The most commonly cited study is Virginia Commonwealth University’s 2012, who found that employees who brought their dogs to work experienced lower stress levels throughout the work day, reported higher levels of job satisfaction, and had a more positive perception of their employer.

This was achieved by testing the saliva of the study participants throughout the day to monitor their Cortisol levels. (Cortisol is the hormone that measures stress.) At the beginning of the day, all employees had similar stress levels – but, as the day went on, the differences in how stressed they were became apparent.

Out of the group, the employees who brought their dogs to work had the lowest stress levels. Those who were the most stressed were dog owners who had left their pets at home.

Negative: Some people have dog allergies

However, there is going to be one group for whom having dogs present will distinctly increase their stress levels: people who are allergic to dogs. If you have a pet allergy, you won’t want to be surrounded by them for the majority of your day.

The common side effects of pet allergies are:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Watery, red or itchy eyes
  • Skin rash or hives – Source

You can imagine an employee dealing with these at work is likely to be unhappy – and far less productive.

Positive: Increases productivity

That being said, while a dog allergy could hinder productivity, having dogs in the office is overall said to increase productivity. The same Virginia Commonwealth University study that discovered decreased stress levels also found that having dogs present increased productivity.

Nearly half of those who brought their dogs in reported increased productivity, while the rest reported no remarkable difference in their daily work output. A majority (80%) of those who did not bring dogs in did not report reduced productivity in the office, and 25% said dogs positively affected productivity.” – Source

Negative: Some people just dislike animals

While not everyone may be allergic to dogs, a lot of people may just dislike them – or worse, be scared of them. For these employees, coming into a workplace full of animals may not be beneficial. In fact, it could lead to them feeling undervalued by the company and unhappy at work. Hardly a recipe for productivity.

Positive: Can increase collaboration and build relationships

Dogs can be somewhat like babies – when people see them, they stop and make a fuss. In an office situation, this is a great way to get to know people and break the ice. It encourages employees to interact and build relationships with each other.

Building friendships with people at work is actually a large factor in job satisfaction.

Having a friendly and well-connected workplace develops a better company culture and makes your office a better place to work. However, on top of this, collaboration is also where most innovation happens – so increasing collaboration in your office can mean your business flourishes.

Negative: Distracting

Having a dog may bring a bit too much joy to the office, though. Your employees spending significant amounts of time fussing over a dog may end up as just a lot of lost time.

Positive: Good for your animals as they aren’t left all alone

This benefit of dogs in the office isn’t necessarily a benefit for the business. From an employee perspective, having dogs in the office means that pets aren’t left at home alone during the day.

Dogs in particular are highly affectionate animals that often don’t like being apart from their owners. When working, owners usually have to choose between worrying, popping in  during the day or paying for expensive dog sitting services.

Allowing dogs in the offices stops your employees from needing to expend all that extra effort.

Negative: Unhygienic

As well as your employees may look after their dogs, they’re still animals – and hygiene isn’t on their list of priorities.

Positive: Easier to attract and retain employees

 A 2016 survey by Banfield pet hospital found that 82% of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to pet-friendly companies, 88% think pets at work improve morale and 86% say they reduce stress. – Source

In the UK, 45% of people have a pet – and over half of those people have a dog. (26% of the population owns a dog.) This means that to a significant amount of the workforce allowing dogs in the office is an enticing benefit – and a good reason to stay.

Negative: Health and safety risks (biting)

One of the largest potential drawbacks of having dogs in the office is the health and safety threat. Even the best behaved dog can get overwhelmed and spooked, or feel threatened by a stranger . . . and as they’re animals, their go to response may be violent. Naturally, this is not something to take lightly – especially considering the potential legal ramifications.

While allowing dogs in the office has a wealth of benefits, there are also a considerable amount of potential negatives to take on board. Before your business decides to implement a pet policy, here are some of the top concerns it should address:

What Your Pet Policy Needs To Include:

1. That if anyone objects, it’s over

It’s essential that your employees feel valued and respected at work – so a good thing to include in your pet policy is an assurance that if anyone object to having pets in the office, pets will be removed.

2. Dog’s behaviour & psychological profile

If allowing dogs in the office, it’s important that you get information on their behaviour and temperament. Otherwise, you may end up with yappy, aggressive dogs running riot in your working space . . .

3. Dogs need training

While you want your employees to feel as comfortable and happy as possible at work, it is still a place for work. Having an untrained dog around is distracting and dangerous. Plus, it can make your office look like an unprofessional environment to clients.

4. Make sure they’re healthy and up to date on their shots

Asking for proof from vets to ensure that dogs are healthy and up to date on their shots is a good way to prevent any potential health problems.

5. Insurance policies; who is responsible for damages

While it hopefully won’t happen, having animals around significantly increases the chances of office damages. To ensure that if anything does happen your business is protected, make sure that both you and the pet owner have the relevant insurance. Plus, be very clear where liability lies.

6. Pet free areas

A possible addition to your pet policy is the enforcement of pet free areas.

7. Whether pets need to be kept on a leash

Some offices may be happy to let dogs roam around freely, but some may prefer them to kept on a lead the whole time. Specifying how dogs need to be kept when in the office is a good idea.

8. Dogs must get along with other dogs

If your office allows more than one dog in at a time, you need to ensure that the dogs have been socialised and can interact well with other dogs.

We hope you found this post informative. Introducing pets to the workplace can be highly beneficial – but make sure that your business is doing it properly.