We’ve all been there, it’s an uneventful Tuesday in your office or coworking space and you’re making the third cup of coffee of the morning, while discussing the weather with your coworkers, only to avoid the mounting stack of emails waiting in your inbox.
Instead of getting on with them, you stare blankly at the screen, check your Instagram feed several times, and start willing the weekend to arrive already.
Finding meaning in your work is essential for having job satisfaction. This is necessary for leading a happy and fulfilled life in general, but once you’re settled into a role and company, it’s easy to become disenchanted and demotivated with your job and lack the ability to have passion in what you do. According to Aberdeen research, people stay in their jobs because they’re challenged and intrigued.
Having a “challenging and intriguing” atmosphere doesn’t necessarily mean “exciting.” It’s more about whether people are engaged. Do you and your coworkers believe what they’re doing is tied to the business’s mission and values ? There has been lots of press coverage about how many hours the typical person can be productive for in the average working day.
A study carried out in 2016 by Draugiem Group who tracked employee work habits with a computer application suggest that the optimum amount of time they worked continuously for before needing a break was an hour – 52 minutes to be precise. And they found that the optimum break time needed before getting stuck back into another hour of work was 17 minutes.
It largely depends on the work culture of the country you are based in, Americans for example, typically work the longest hours, an average of 38.6 hours per week, but it’s difficult to measure if they’re anymore productive than the Norwegian working approximately 5.2 hours less per week. An alternative approach to take is that of countries such as The Netherlands who have adopted a 4-day working week – and the country has not yet collapsed!
Getting that next step up in the career ladder or gaining that promotion can be a great motivator, however, there are other steps you can take to improve your coworking space or office and become an innovator, able of leading the way in your department, company, or field.
An innovator is someone who has embraced a new idea, and through their unwavering belief in this concept creates environments in which they and others are given the tools and resources to challenge the status quo, push boundaries and achieve growth. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” – Steve Jobs.
In this article, you’ll find out how you can transform your work environment to change your mindset and help you to work more efficiently. Be it in your company’s office, your own home office or a coworking space, these tips, both physical and psychological, are easy to implement and will pay dividends in the long run.
First off, we’ll run through the physical changes you can make to your workspace or things to consider when choosing an office, or coworking space
Letting in natural light sources is vital for keeping brain function at optimum level and reducing the likelihood of feeling tired at work. Low or dim light settings will make you feel tired, even when you’ve had a decent nights sleep, so it’s important your workspace have decent lighting and lets in natural light where possible.
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, contributes to balancing your mood and fatigue levels throughout the day, these two factors can wreak havoc with productivity at work if not kept under control. It’s a great excuse to get outside for a break, and take a walk in the sunshine to top up on your vitamin D!
A Space To Take A Proper Break
As we learned in the introduction, break time isn’t just for school children, we need them too in order to stay productive. Many companies don’t have a focus on providing proper space for downtime – that means time away from the screen to relax or even do something fun and not work-related. On the other hand, you often hear of companies with gaming rooms, ping-pong tables, and beds for taking impromptu naps.
These may not be possible if your company doesn’t have those kinds of resources or your office is a coworking space. However, comfortable chairs and sofas, a TV, or magazines can be a good start. Taking yourself for a stroll around the block can also clear your mind and leave you energized for the next burst of productivity once back at your desk.
Work Next To Other Working
A vibrant shared workspace where you can visibly see others hard at work will inspire you to follow suite. Often bigger, corporate offices are stuffier and have walls and partitions preventing you from seeing those around you, with the aim of helping people concentrate.
Contrary to the idea behind the private offices and partitions, smaller start-up companies, modern open plan offices, and coworking spaces encourage proactive working, reinforce and a strong work ethic and open conversation between all employee levels.
Get Comfy At Work
There is an equally important flip side to this argument which is the importance of being comfy at work, including what you wear and your workstation, including desk height, chair position etc.
Big companies such as Salesforce and Amazon are paving the way in allowing employees to dress in more casual attire for comfort when not meeting with clients.
If you’ve never seen what happens to your back when sitting at a desk for years then this may come as a surprise to you. It’s vital for your spine health for you or your employee to invest in a proper ergonomic chair or chose a coworking space which has decent chairs. The cost to companies in lost productivity due to injury from inadequate office equipment is staggering.
Aside from injury, being comfortable in your work environment will naturally make you focus for longer periods without needing to adjust your position or get up from your desk.
Next up, we’ll run through the ways in which you can structure yourself and alter your outlook to be more productive
Don’t Look At Your Email First
Naturally, most people arrive at work and the first thing they do is look through their emails and immediately start going through them one by one. However, doing this can distract you with other tasks which have cropped up in your inbox, instead of setting your own agenda for the day. This means that your time will be taken up with those tasks and you’ll lose the essence of what you wanted to achieve at work that day.
Instead, set yourself an hour at the top of each morning to set your goals for the day, and put a structure to your day, factoring in replying to emails as one part of it. This will help you be more productive and you’ll be satisfied knowing you’re not a slave to all the requests that come into your mailbox, you set your own purpose within your job.
Set Personal Goals
What are your goals for today, this week, this month, this year? Set yourself goals that are different from those your company has set, achieving your own personal goals takes real self-motivation to accomplish and will give you a great sense of satisfaction in knowing you have gone above and beyond your company set targets and KPI’s.
Document your goals, the efforts you’ve taken in achieving them, and then once you finally accomplish them for your own personal records and so you can celebrate each win! You can then refer back to these personal goals as leverage next time you want to negotiate a raise or promotion, so it’s well worth the effort.
Perks But Not Too Many
Everyone likes to feel like a valued employee, otherwise, it’s hard to have a fulfilling career. Companies who offer perks and freebies at work are often viewed as successful and those who can afford to treat their employees very well. Whilst this might be true, such perks such as free meals can destroy a healthy work-life balance, because it’s too easy to spend every waking hour at work.
Studies have shown that productivity at work is likely limited to about 3 hours a day, that’s not much at all considering the usual hours are 9 am – 5 pm. Taking regular breaks, such as the morning jaunt to the coffee shop or a walk around the block, will actually improve concentration and productivity when you return.
Finally, here are the secret ingredients to becoming an innovator
Dress For Work Wherever Your Working
Having a smarter or even separate work wardrobe to your usual casual clothes is an essential psychological trick to fool yourself into being more productive at work. We all know that one friend who works from home and boasts about sitting on their coach working in their Pyjamas. We’re all jealous of those people and their casual work environment, but we shouldn’t be!
If you don’t want the effort of picking out a different outfit each day, follow the likes of Zuckerburg and Apple’s late Steve Jobs and create your own uniform, with several of the same comfortable and practical items which look good and make you feel productive, eliminating the choice from your work wardrobe will also save you precious time in the morning for other things.
Creativity is the fuel for innovation. Being given the opportunity to play around with ideas and the freedom to experiment is essential. Innovation is everywhere and can vary from a totally brand new concept to honing in on a particular part of a process and making it better. Does your environment feel free and inspiring, are you able to take time out of your day to innovate? Is there colour on the walls, art, plants and an idea-sharing culture?
For small companies it doesn’t have to require huge resources to create an inspiring and creative workplace, many coworking spaces focus on offering a creative environment to attract companies.
It could simply be taking time out from your normal tasks to actively think of ways you can do things better. The most well-known innovators didn’t just go along with what has always been done, they decided they would do it differently. In the case of the iPhone, Apple didn’t event the telephone but they did reimagine the way in which people use their telephones.
Don’t Be A Slave To Processes
Being an innovator doesn’t always means coming up with a wacky new invention to achieve world domination with, it can simply mean spotting a flaw in something you or your company are doing and refining the process.
Perhaps there’s a process which is wasting a lot of time – or you don’t use it because it’s far too cumbersome – an innovator will find a solution to refine the process instead of being a slave to the process as so many companies are.
Your office or coworking space doesn’t have to be perfect, nor does it have to conform to any one set of expectations, but it does have to give you everything you need to feel valued, the tools to do the work required of you, the environment you need to be productive and the opportunity to innovate.
Innovation is what takes a small idea and grows it into a household name, and that’s worth waking up for!