Every company wants to be profitable, and productive employees are key to that success. But how can small business leaders help their workforces become more productive?
One way is to consider creating a non-sedentary workplace, which research shows can improve group performance. A study conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that when people worked on creative tasks in an environment that encouraged standing versus sitting, they increased collaboration and achievement.
It’s clear that the energy of the environment affects productivity. Small business leaders need to begin thinking more comprehensively about how the modern office factors into the success of employees and businesses alike.
The Modern Office Must Evolve
Cramped, cubicle-style layouts limit natural light, affect employees’ moods, encourage unhealthy habits, and reduce collaboration. But even beyond interaction and productivity, an overly sedentary lifestyle has been associated with serious health consequences. Heart disease, obesity, and diabetes are just some of the potential outcomes, all of which can play a role in employee distress and future absenteeism.
On the other hand, increased movement, especially in the office, has the opposite effect. It boosts energy, creativity, and other “X factors” that promote individual and company success.
Still, office culture changes slowly. Fortunately, leaders can take some immediate steps to transform their space into a more active workspace and increase energy. From simply stocking the office with good sources of water (hydration is key when it comes to health and activity) to larger cultural changes, you can help your employees stay energized and motivated all day long.
1. Get People Moving — at Their Stations and Beyond
Mix things up at the very spot business happens: people’s desks. Today’s office furniture offers options such as dynamic walls, standing desks, and sit-stand converters that can totally transform an existing workstation and can give employees the flexibility and control they need. And it offers them the comfort and autonomy to put them “in the zone” — a necessary step toward increased focus and productivity.
The entire office space is as important as the individual space, if not more so. Workers who move around more throughout the day are not only healthier, but they’re also more likely to engage in serendipitous interactions with their co-workers. Centralizing common items, like trash cans and printers, fosters this kind of movement while simplifying maintenance and decluttering employees’ personal spaces. Beyond the office, you can also host walking meetings (outside, if the weather permits) to promote fresh insights and team building.
2. Lead by Doing — Not Just Delegating
Ultimately, employees look to leadership to set the tone, so be sure that any changes you make are fully embraced and enacted at the top.
Leaders participating in office health and fitness challenges, attending meditation or other de-stressing workshops, and even playing pickup sports games with co-workers are great examples and encourage teams to lead more balanced lives. In fact, a better work-life balance is something that many employees (especially Millennials) value. When you lead by example, you can alter a workplace’s culture to promote that balance and inspire increased productivity.
3. Encourage Your Team to Make Suggestions
Keep in mind that these changes are for everyone’s benefit. Building something new into your company’s culture is an opportunity to better each employee and your business. Once you get your team to rally around the idea of a more movement-oriented workspace, let employees run with any new ideas they have. You hire smart people, after all — so trust them.
Make it easy for employees to submit ideas or feedback about any changes you make to the office, and take their opinions into account when you consider new updates. Don’t be afraid to take chances. It’s likely your organization’s progress won’t be derailed by one idea that doesn’t pan out exactly as you’d hoped. And when you have a full team working to improve something, you’ll likely end up finding an efficient, effective solution more quickly than if you’d worked on it alone.
By getting your employees moving, leading them by example, and welcoming their feedback, you can build an active workspace that supports their unique needs while still offering an environment that encourages collaboration. Because when your teams feel at their best physically, mentally, and emotionally, everyone — including your organization — wins.