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Whether you are working in an office environment, working from home, or a combination of both as so many hybrid workers are doing now in 2022, it’s important to take a step back and examine your work environments to be the best they can possibly be.

Obviously if you’re in an office building, you probably can’t ask your boss to put in a window that currently doesn’t exist or to do an entire overhaul on the interior design of the building.

Here are three meaningful choices that people can most likely implement, though make sure to ask before you start making any changes! If you need to persuade your boss, there is legitimate research as to a host of factors in one’s work environment that can make a significant impact on their productivity. What kind of boss wouldn’t want you to be as productive as possible?

1. Plants

We put plants at the top of our list because they are viewed as small, but any living green thing inside can seriously change an entire space. A recent study done by Cardiff University in Wales proved that plants in the office can make people happier and more productive. 

“Even if your space lacks floor-to-ceiling windows or a large water feature in the atrium, there are ways of mimicking nature indoors and arranging working environments that can still deliver the same benefits as the real thing and not break the bank.” (Source)

“Respondents to the Human Spaces Global Report who worked in environments with natural elements reported a 15% higher level of well-being, a 6% higher level of productivity and a 15% higher level of creativity.” 

In an office or factory where you can’t have real plants, even evoking nature through technology (graphics, wallpaper, a digital screen or exposed wood or stone) may boost productivity by helping people feel more connected with nature while at work.

2. Natural light

If you are working from home, you must reflect on your lighting needs in the home office. You don’t want the room to be too light that it interferes with your computer glare, but you also don’t want to necessarily stick yourself in a basement without windows. 

“Some studies prove that natural lighting promotes productivity, improves your health, and can have positive effects on your behavior and mood.” (Source)

When you can, dim your screen to protect your eyes and ward off headaches caused by staring at the screen for too many hours in the day. That being said, you also don’t want to be hunched forward or squinting to look at a screen that’s too dim, so find a happy medium.

3. Figure out your optimal noise level

Some people work best in a bustling environment like a coffee shop, while others are much more productive sitting in a quiet library. Assess your noise preference and do your best to at least get your most important work done with your optimal noise level. If you’re a person who works better with people around, but you’re working from home–hit up a coffee shop or other wi-fi friendly work space. If you’re a person who’s distracted by noise, invest in a decent pair of noise-canceling headphones.

With noise, you may also want to evaluate your notifications and silence the ones that don’t serve your best interests. You can always turn them back on, but turning them off may boost your productivity more than you may realize. If you’re worried about an important email, set aside 5 minutes to check it every hour, so that you at least have 55 minutes of productive time.

All in all, our environment is a crucial factor that can impact productivity positively or negatively. No matter what your work situation, taking some time to evaluate how you can change your environment can truly save you time if you can manage to be more efficient with the work you have by tweaking your environment for the better.