7 Ways a Poor Work Environment Affects Employee Productivity 

Creating an efficient workspace that boosts morale and raises productivity is about more than just style and appearances. Many comfort factors affect how a workplace can impede or promote health, mood, and the overall success of employees. 

Simple changes can make a world of difference. But employers need to know how to identify the problems in their own office. 

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Here are seven common attributes of a poor work environment and easy ways you can fix them.

1.Loud Offices Should Be A Thing of the Past

Excessive noise one of the most unpopular obstructions to maximizing employee productivity. 

Studies have shown that 58 percent of high-performance employees say they need a quieter work environment, 54 percent find their workplace too distracting, and 25 to 30 percent are dissatisfied with the noise level at work.

What's one of the most notable offenders in contributing to noise and distractions in the workplace? Phone calls. 

Having multiple people trying to conduct phone calls at once can be extremely distracting. To combat this problem, employers should consider installing phone booths in the office. 

With the best on the market from Zenbooth being equipped with 3.5-inch thick cotton insulated walls, staff will have a place to step away from noisy coworkers. This will aid them in conducting calls in peace, and focusing on assignments with fast-approaching deadlines. 

Studies show this example of modern office furniture can eliminate over 50 percent of all workplace noise, leading employees to make 10 percent fewer errors. 

    2. Lack of Privacy Is A Common Attribute of Poor Work Environments

    Another reason why employees may like the option to tuck into an office phone booth is that many are suffering from a lack of privacy. 

    In fact, a recent study revealed just how highly valued privacy is among workers. A group of 9-5ers was asked if they would be willing to give up compensation for it.

    Of those workers, 13 percent said they would give up bonuses, 13 percent would forgo vacation days, 17 percent would work without access to a window, and 27 percent would sacrifice their office coffee machine. 

    Needless to say, workers clearly care about privacy, and rightly so. 

    A lack of privacy can keep employees from being productive due to the constant distractions and the inability to conduct 1v1 meetings. Privacy allows employees to handle personal errands and stay focused when they're up against a deadline. 

    It's also nice not having a manager look over shoulder all day. 

    3. Harsh Lighting At Work

    Harsh or poor lighting can have a more negative impact on employee productivity than was once believed. 

    Studies have shown that 79 percent of computer users in Silicon Valley were dissatisfied with the lighting situation in their workplace, and a study by the American Society of Interior Design found that 68 percent of employees found their workplace lighting to be unpleasant. 

    Do you think your workplace may be suffering from poor lighting? Thankfully, this is one of the easiest problems to solve when improving your work environment. 

    After determining which kind of lighting issue your office may have (workplace polls are never a bad idea), you can solve poor lighting through:

    • Using different colors and types of lightbulbs
    • Installing more or fewer light fixtures
    • Increasing access to windows and natural light
    • Offering smaller personal lights like desk lamps

    Poor lighting, whether it be too dim or too harsh, can decrease output by lowering mood and ability to focus on tasks. Making minor improvements can increase worker satisfaction in a meaningful way.

    4. Uncomfortable Office Furniture Hampers Staff Production

    Working in an office is sometimes synonymous with back pain and overall discomfort, but it doesn't have to be. There are a few easy changes you can make in your workspace to ensure that your employees can thrive in a comfortable environment that doesn't leave them exhausted and sore at the end of the day. 

    One of the easiest pieces of furniture to install are adjustable desks. Studies reveal the danger that sitting for too long poses on our joints and our hearts. Needless to say, the amount of sitting that people have to do at work can raise their sedentary time drastically. 

    Adjustable desks allow employees to work while sitting or standing to suit their comfort and preferences. This user-friendly design promotes health by burning calories and relieving pressure on arteries. 

    5. Inability to Communicate

    The communication problem used to be partitions, which were those drab, grey walls drawn up between co-workers for some modicum of privacy. 

    However, many modern business owners have determined partitions to be detrimental in several ways, including the limitation of co-worker communication. Currently, 70 percent of offices have zero or low partitions, allowing people to discuss ideas and details with their co-workers with ease.

    For employees, not being able to communicate the way they need to can seriously affect productivity.

    Although having no partitions also comes with its drawbacks, some of which have been mentioned above, you can get the best of both worlds from an open and partitioned office by installing additional collaborative office furniture like huddle rooms.

    It's important to establish spaces where workers can step away from their desks and collaborate on projects. For example, having an executive room installed in your workspace will allow groups of up to six people get some privacy and space while they work on potentially time-sensitive or confidential projects. 

    As companies move past cubicles and into open office layouts, it's crucial to ensure that your employees can work together and communicate properly when necessary without disturbing others. 

    6. Crowded Workspace

    A crowded workspace can add a lot of discomfort to people's day. Too many employees working in too small a space can result in more of the aforementioned productivity drainers: excessive noise, disruptions, and stress.

    Studies show that something as simple as overhearing a conversation between co-workers can result in a five to 10 percent decline in the employee’s ability to carry out even the simplest of work-related tasks. 

    Another study done by Humboldt University in Berlin found that it took 23 minutes for an employee's mind to fully return to their work after being interrupted. 

    There are several ways that you can keep a workspace from becoming overcrowded:

    • Install executive rooms/phone booths
    • Limit clutter
    • Maximize the use of space you do have - if you can separate tables or desks, do so

    While overcrowded workspaces are known to reduce productivity, they also can result in unsafe working conditions. 

    Unsure if your workspace is working for the number of employees you have? The best way to know for sure is to ask your employees in person, or through an anonymous office poll, to ensure that everyone has the space they need to succeed.

    7. Lack of Basic Resources Contribute to Poor Work Environments

    One of the most frustrating things an employee can experience is not being able to find the simplest piece of office equipment. They could be in the midst of an intense assignment, trying their best not to lose focus, and then suddenly they can't find a scanner or stapler when they need one.

    Having to do things like travel around the office looking for binders, new keyboards or a working electrical outlet will result in a lot of wasted time in the long run. 

    Worse than the wasted time is that an employee in this situation may come to feel as though their role in the company isn't valued and that their own time and needs aren't taken seriously. 

    Work with your office manager and receptionist to gauge inventory. Have a detailed list of tasks each team member does. With this list you'll have a good idea of what office supplies are needed.

    The best way to determine which of these factors may be affecting your employee's productivity is to ask them, whether it be one on one, in a meeting, or by an anonymous office poll. 

    Don't let a poor work environment affect the productivity of employees. If you're in need of quiet, privacy or collaboration space, give Zenbooth a call. 

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