There are easy ways to boost worker productivity that won’t break the bank, or take up much office time. Adding plants, art and colour to workplaces are proven “quick fixes” to make office better work places for employees while driving sharp rises in worker productivity, according to Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, workplace specialists that consult across Africa.

“Research shows that making sure office have these elements typically boots productivity by 25 to 30 percent. The recent trend of creating sanitised, Spartan, uncluttered offices simply does not make people more productive. The lean, pared-down office is not best for concentration or work comfort, despite the thinking that no distractions mean greater concentration. A green office says to employees that their employer cares about them and their welfare. Adding plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity.”

She says another factor that makes offices better places to work is the right use of colour. Bland grey, beige and white offices induce feelings of sadness and depression, and purple and orange workspaces also contribute to feeling s of gloominess. Trim says that scientific studies have shown that colours don’t just change our moods; they also profoundly impact productivity – for better and for worse.

“That’s why it’s best to decorate your workplace with a vibrant mix of stimulating hues that increase output and spark creativity. Restful green and calming blue improve efficiency and focus. They also create an overall sense of well-being.”

She says red is a particularly alarming colour for the workplace and should only be used to draw employees’ attentions to something. Yellow should be added to places where creativity is a demand of the job and can complement the greens and blues.

A third factor that has proven to enhance productivity is art. “An enriched space makes people feel much happier and work better and a very good way of doing this is by using art. This doesn’t mean dreadful motivational posters, which say thing like ‘there is no I in team’ or ‘whatever the problem, be part of the solution’, because these don’t work at all.

Art doesn’t make every person who looks at it inherently more creative, but it gets them involved on a more intellectual level. Aesthetic in the truest sense means energy-giving, which is what a workplace needs, rather than a bland, industrial environment that can be more like giving workers a dose of sleeping pills.”

A study by Dr Craig Knight, who examined the psychology of working environments for 12 years at the University of Exeter, showed that they had never found that lean office created better results.

He also found that the more involved people are in the enrichment process, the more they are able to realise a part of themselves in the space.

“People spend most of their waking lives at work and being in an office can become very routine. But if they are surrounded by plants, judicious use of colour and pleasing art it can create a work environment with a sense of intrigue and engagement.”

Another advantage of good workplaces is that they help retain staff and reduce absenteeism due to illness.

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