For many busy employers, addressing productivity issues can be literally a check box exercise: a system and process audit to see where and how improvements can be made.
But once you’re sure your systems are as streamlined as they can possibly be, there are other things you can do to enhance human engagement and maximise your team’s motivation.
And it’s all about the feel good factor. Creating that can be as simple as appealing to basic human need for comfort and security in a natural environment while stimulating energy. Scientific studies continue to produce evidence that we seek out nature not only for our physical survival but because it is beneficial to our social and personal wellbeing. See our last blog based on evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson’s ‘biophilia’ theory.
With that all in mind we took a look at how light and music in particular can have a seriously positive effect not only on wellbeing but also on productivity.
Circadian light is good.
Studies prove that the high blue wavelength of LED and fluorescent lights trigger alertness and productivity in the day but deregulate the circadian cycle at night. This is disastrous for long term health because it can be the precursor to sleep disorders, heart disease, obesity and depression. Studies have shown that people working in low wavelength blue light performed 10-25% better than counterparts working in high blue wavelength light. They also show that circadian lighting increases functionality, efficiency and performance.
Biodynamic lighting is better.
Ample evidence exists to demonstrate that biodynamic lighting controlled by employees can help to increase productivity. Personalised lighting that can be adjusted per individual biodynamics, and the task at hand, is the perfect complement to the maximum possible amount of light. Biodynamic lighting systems essentially replicate how daylight and sunlight vary dynamically, and so replicate the positive biological benefits too. A key element of biodynamic light leverages the fact that we are all fitted with blue sky detectors that take their cues from the rising and setting of the sun and prepare us accordingly for rest or activity.
Natural light is best.
While it’s not regulated here in the UK, the HSE does offer suggested minimum levels of natural light depending on type of job and the sector. Finer or detailed work, for example, will logically need better lighting. Plus, of course, it’s recognised that bad lighting can have negative effects such as eye strain, headaches, fatigue and even postural problems. We also know that too little natural light can contribute to conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and can negatively affect alertness and the body’s natural rhythms.
“Often just 13-15 mins of exposure to natural light are enough to trigger the release of endorphins or “happy hormones.”
Dr. Pragya Agarwal, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant
Music to Your Ears
Listening helps focus.
In communal workspaces and open plan offices, music can form a sound barrier to block out peripheral noise. It’s also been shown that employees use music to focus better as it creates a zone in which to concentrate. Knowing that employees also use music to lower their stress levels and work more productively should encourage employers to put in place clear guidelines on music usage in the workplace so that productivity isn’t impacted by uncertainty.
Put the Pop in Productivity!
Ever notice that lots of commercial public spaces have high-energy pop music playing in the background? It raises energy and encourages people to move faster. At work, employees say that pop music is the type of music most likely to help them focus. This is confirmed in a survey by Robert Half and the key is implementing a considerate music user policy.
“71% of staff who are allowed to listen to music at work reported being at least somewhat more productive when music is playing.”
Don’t stop the music!
Just be sensible about it. Knowing your employees as you do, you’ll be able to gauge the appetite for music at work, whether there’s an appetite for communal tunes or if people prefer to wear headphones and listen through their gadgets. We’ve all been in the factory or garage where the radio is a permanent fixture and helps to create a productive buzz. Conversely, the quietest of offices can often be home to teams of people wearing headphones and so enjoying their own head and music space. As above, give people guidance by shaping a policy wherever possible – it will be music to their ears and avoid any issues!