3 Workspace hacks to boost productivity

When we talk about ways to increase productivity, the focus tends to be on technology. Whether it’s a hot new app that will keep you organized or one that will let you block social media (goodbye, Facebook, hello, work!), there’s plenty of tech to help you get work done more efficiently.

But what if you want to do something a little more hands-on instead? You might be surprised to find that there are specific, tangible things that you can tweak in your physical workspace, which can boost your peace of mind and productivity. Here are four ideas to try.

1. Give yourself room to think

The effect: Research published in 2007 suggests that ceiling height affects how people think, feel, and act. According to the researchers, people in rooms with higher ceilings were better at thinking in the abstract, and people working in rooms with lower ceilings were more productive when it came to detailed work.

How to use this: If you’re an office-dweller, there’s probably not a lot you can do about the ceiling height of your workplace. If you’re a remote worker on the other hand, keep this in mind when you’re scouting work locations. You can easily switch between two coffee shops with different ceiling heights, or create a space at home for focused work, then head out to an airy coffee shop for brainstorming (or vice versa).

2. Bring the outdoors into your office

The effect: Natural light and plants both have surprising benefits:

  • A host of research (summarized here) shows that natural light has strong effects on productivity, decreases stress, and even positively affects employee happiness and loyalty levels. A 2003 study showed that call center employees seated near a window generate an additional $3,000 of productivity per year.
  • A Texas A&M study showed that people who worked around flowers and plants were better at coming up with new ideas. Another study found that having plants around measurably reduced stress levels in hospital patients. And yet another study showed that plants can help keep attention spans from wandering.

How you can use this: Much like ceiling height, the answer is pretty self-explanatory if you’re a remote worker. Find more natural light! If you’re an office worker and don’t have control over lighting options for your work area, buy yourself a plant. Aim for something that can thrive in low light and is easy to care for, like Zebra plants or African violets.

3. Give yourself a soundtrack

The effect: Music can boost your mood, helping you come up with new ideas and get more work done. If you can’t listen to it all day, 15-30 minute chunks should work.

How you can use this: Okay, so music isn’t technically a part of your workspace. But investing in a solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones could do you good. You’ll get the benefits of listening to music (or ambient noise, your choice) and you’ll also remove potential distractions (sometimes it’s hard not to listen in on coworker’s conversations!).

Even if you don’t have control over your office layout, change what you can (bring in some plants! get some good headphones!) and work better for it. And if you’re a remote worker, there’s no reason not to take advantage of these hacks. What can you change about your workspace today?

What are your workspace hacks? Tweet us @highfivehq.