The average person will spend around 90,000 hours of their life at work. This makes our offices the place where we spend the most amount of time. How does this make you feel? The majority of us would probably prefer this statistic to be a bit lower.
Perhaps we should put as much effort in to designing our workspace, as we do our homes? According to researchers such as Sundstrom (1994) our indoor environment greatly influences our mental status, actions, abilities, and performance. Some companies have cottoned on to this idea; Google’s latest offices wouldn’t look out of place in a designer interiors magazine with lounge areas, pool tables, and games consoles.
Granted Google has a lot more cash than most companies, but we can dream. If money was unlimited what would you buy? We consider the best luxury products to improve office productivity.
Image by Herman Miller
The right chair is one of the most important features of the productive workplace. The majority of office time is spent sitting down, a position that adds stress to the structures of the spine. Comfort is essential for maintaining concentration. Springer Inc (1986) studied an insurance company, and found that the best ergonomic furniture improved performance by 10% to 15%.
The king of ergonomic chairs is the Herman Miller Embody. Herman Miller is one of the most influential brands when it comes to designing office chairs, and the Embody has set a new standard. The design recognizes that almost all work processes have become tethered to the electronic world, and restores balance to the human/computer relationship by supporting the mind and body. A set of important innovations enhances both your intake of oxygen and the cellular exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, thereby fuelling your brain as well as improving health.
This slick piece of design doesn’t come cheap, with new models retailing at around $1099.
Image by Well Working
You should see your desk as the control hub at the centre of operations. A tidy desk equals a tidy mind, and the design should make it easy for you to be organised. The Holmis Milk Desk is both the smartest, and the most luxurious desk available. It is very Apple orientated with hidden iPod, iPhone, and Mac chargers, and it has numerous compartments for storage. It’s most novel feature is the optional inbuilt fish tank, which creates a relaxing working environment. Unsurprisingly it’s pretty pricey retailing at £1890.
Image by Kibisi
What the Holmis Milk desk does lack however is the ability to change height, and its intense focus on Apple products means that it might not be the best choice for those that favour other technology companies. A good alternative is Kibisi’s X-Table . Although it is a much simpler design with fewer multi-functional features, it comes equipped with a hand crank for height alterations; an important consideration when it comes to maintaining the correct posture and reducing the likelihood of back and neck problems.
Image by Applied Workplace
A number of studies have shown that open plan office layouts decrease productivity. Ringing phones, pinging emails, and conversations are all major distractions. Partitioning separates the workspace, and also increases job satisfaction, as it shows employees that they are trusted to concentrate without 24/7 supervision.
Although more expensive than some of its non-transparent counterparts, glass partitioning is the best choice for a modern, sleek look that allows maximum light transfer. It is available single glazed, or double glazed for the best sound insulation. Most companies provide free quotes based on your exact specifications, but prices start from around £250 per linear metre.
Image by Apple
A super-powerful workstation is the ultimate luxury office accessory. For Apple enthusiasts the 27 inch iMac is the best product available. Apple allows you to customise your desktop computer to suit your needs, and an additional Apple MacBook dramatically increases productivity. It can be synced with the Holmis Milk desk for the perfect working environment. The all-in-one iMac costs around £1,099.00 to £1,699.00.
Image by HP
A powerful, customisable workstation is the HP Z820. It benefits from the latest Intel “Sandy Bridge” Xeon processors and associated chipsets, as well as being able to process as many as 16 cores when you install two CPUs into the system. It also has significantly faster system memory than its predecessor. It retails at around £1,500.
Sound can have a massive impact on our productivity, mood, and stress-levels, but many of us don’t realise how much it can affect our work. Julian Treasure, president of the Sound Agency suggests that we only have the capacity for around 1.6 human conversations. Therefore if we are listening to one nearby, we only have 0.6 left for our inner voice that helps us write or converse.
Image by Jabra
Noise-cancelling audio equipment is essential for businesses that rely heavily on radio and voice communications. The Jabra Pro 9400 series are designed to deliver the best audio, even in the nosiest office environments. Technology in the ear phones and microphone both eliminate background noise, and enhance the audio of incoming calls. Ideal for call centres, the headphones allow crystal clear conversation.
Image by BHI
Similarly, noise cancelling speakers take in ambient noise and produce an exact match to the sound phased by 180 degrees, removing unwanted background noise and interference. BHI produce the hi-tech NEMA device for use in marine communication channels, which retails at £189.95.
Many studies have found that colour can drastically affect an employee’s mood, and can therefore directly influence how efficiently businesses are run. Advertisers have always known how powerful colour can be; a Twix wrapper is chocolate brown for a reason. Employers are starting to get in on the action by recognizing which colours promote productivity.
A survey conducted by Avery Office Products in 2004 found that 88% of respondents felt that greater colour vibrancy in the workplace would increase morale, performance and efficiency. Why then are so many offices painted beige or grey, colours that have been found to be associated with sadness?
Pale blue is renowned as the best colour to use. It is related to relaxation and can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. It can also make you feel calmer, as well as boosting imaginative thoughts, and increasing creativity. Orange is recommended as a good choice for enhancing enthusiasm and energy.
On the hand colours to avoid include red which can increase appetite, give employees a headache, and lower their IQ, and purple which can arouse romantic feelings unsuitable for the workplace.
Glass partitioning systems such as those by Applied Workplace can also promote productivity by increasing light, and encouraging collaboration.
First-class organisation is one of the most important features of a successful workplace. Employees who take pride in their work are more likely to keep their desk tidy and utilise filing systems. This will have positive implications reducing stress, and increasing speed.
Image by Urban Office Storage
Multiple companies offer fitting of innovative storage solutions to aid productivity. Urban Office Storage recognizes that great storage is often underestimated in the modern office. They offer intelligent solutions, with slick designs that make good use of space.
Terri Tory is a modular storage system with unlimited possibilities. It utilises the popular trend of customisable work spaces that can be changed depending on needs. Both flexible and scalable, furniture of this kind is ideal for rapidly growing start-ups with increasing storage requirements.
Office Blueprint creates innovative storage solutions. Their sleek storage wall is an unobtrusive way to hide folders and files, giving the space a tidy and professional appearance. It has a visible shelf for items that you want to be on show, and user friendly cupboards for ease of access. Made to measure the item is priced on linear metres.
Atmospherics go beyond the necessary, and add a little something extra to your workspace. Intended to promote a particular mood such as creativity or pensiveness, they are a useful tool when it comes to increasing productivity. Companies such as Red Bull have got this nailed. The inclusion of a slide in their London headquarters may seem unnecessary, but the atmosphere of fun it promotes is wholly fitting for their company ethos.
Image by Chesterfields Of England
For creativity boosting The Chesterfield Cockburn Chair and Footstool is the perfect place to sit and think about how you’re going to make all that money. It is hand-made in England from real leather, and has a real hard wood frame. The price of £755.04 is fitting for this little piece of luxury.
Image by Idea Paint
White boards have long been used for brainstorming and note jotting. IdeaPaint has taken this one step further, allowing you to turn your office into a boundless dry erase surface. The special paint can turn a whole room into one giant whiteboard, creating the perfect space for collaboration and creativity. Undeniably this would be so much fun. It retails at £147.24 for 50 square foot.
Image by The Sky Factory
Lighting is another key consideration when it comes to office productivity. A study by the American Society of Interior Design found that 68 per cent of employees complain about the lighting situation in their offices. If possible natural light is the best option providing the optimal conditions for vision, and having a positive effect on our mood and hormone balance. If daylight isn’t possible The Sky Factory manufactures modular virtual skylights that create a photographic illusion of real sky views, which trigger relaxation responses in the brain. Quotes are available by contact.
Numerous studies support the theory that office set-up is extremely influential when it comes to productivity. Many of us underestimate the impact that our environment can have on our output. Whilst some factors such as noise are obvious distractions, others like colour are more surprising. Spending money on improving the work space is a cost effective way to improve efficiency, as a small percentage increase in productivity can have dramatic effects on the profitability of a company. Granted some of the items detailed in this post are beyond the budget of smaller businesses, but it is often possible to find cheaper versions second-hand or online.