How To Boost Productivity By Changing Your Office Layout

For a lot of us worker bees, our Mondays to Fridays look like this:

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image source

7am brings a dawn chorus of alarm clocks followed by the communal battering of the snooze button. Generally, we like to avoid the puffy-eyed glares of our fellow disenchanted colleagues on our well-trodden route to work. It can often feel like we’re all putting on a variation of the same suit and sloping of to trudge through another day, another inbox full of gubbins we’re only pretending to understand. Poorly-planned office spaces only emphasise the mundane existence of 9 to 5; nothing kills inspiration like a generic space. Then thank heavens it’s Friday; see you later, I’m off to the pub. Paycheque, please.

This is the challenge facing office-job employers. How unenviable. But, of course, there are ways to pull your workforce out of the mill, motivate them to achieve and, as a result, boost your profit.

Know Thine Enemy: Open Plan Problems.

Aside from often being a decidedly uninspiring place to work, open plan offices can create their own little unhappy ecosystems, breeding apathy and discontentment in a workplace Petri dish. If colleagues are getting along, the noise of chatter and babble can distract those trying to focus. If chalk and cheese happen to be seated near each other, sparks can fly where nobody wants them.

If an office is deathly quiet, it can be very difficult to pass confidential information. Add in bad personal habits, powerful lunchtime odours, and personal preferences (air-con, music, light levels…) and it’s little wonder that productivity is the first casualty of a malfunctioning office space. So what to do about it?

Love thy neighbour: Open Plan Solutions

Open plan offices can tick all the boxes for an employer if laid out correctly. They’re significantly cheaper than individual offices, communication is easier across the board and team working is all but unavoidable (unless you build yourself a desk fort out of stationary and, let’s face it, that’s not the adult response to workplace challenges!).

Divide and Conquer

Draw up an office floor-plan, dividing up the space based on which teams complement each other. Your analytics team may need good access to peace and quiet, so best not to place them near the sales team. You’ve noticed two teams who need to talk to each other simply aren’t: make sure they need to pass each other to get anywhere! Mapping out space and communicating it to everyone ensures everyone knows what’s going on in the whole office, not just at their desk.

Often, people gravitate towards people they work really well with. If you spot people who work fantastically in a team, seat them near each other. It’s extremely motivating to be surrounded by positive, proactive teams – although there’s a definite, and distracting, difference between excellent teamwork and best mates getting along like a house on fire!

Creating shared spaces appropriate to all needs is a winning trick and doesn’t have to cost the earth or isolate your workers. Glass partitions and be used to build a transparent meeting place for sharing confidential information or providing a quiet space for analytical tasks. Combination working, whereby workers are empowered to change their environment depending on their need, allows people to concentrate for longer by varying their surroundings. A big concern about cubicle working has always been the limitation of light, but with clear partitions, privacy, peace and natural light are entirely possible.


A central printer in a large office can create discord: nobody takes responsibility when the toner needs replacing and there’s always a print queue and of stuff that always seem far less important than your own. Invest in equipment to be shared by fewer people, thereby creating an opportunity to catch up as well as diffusing bust-ups before they have a chance to happen.

Be creative

If a desk is wall-facing then add some inspiration by mounting a colourful picture with some depth perspective. You don’t need to spend thousands to brighten up the wall space and inspire more thought than a bland, blank wall.

Even a visually-appealing desk layout can serve to improve productivity. Curves, levels and organised space are aesthetically much nicer to look at than cluttered, overcrowded rectangles laid out like a chicken farm. Given that it’s easy to rent desk furniture by the month, it doesn’t have to break the bank to inspire a team with a visually pleasing, clever layout. Clever you.

Do you have any tips for boosting productivity through creating a better workspace? Share your suggestions with us!

About the Author: Claire Hovey is a marketing freelancer who has seen her fair share of nightmare office environments as well as one or two impressive and inspired layout designs. She recommends Applied Workplace for affordable office solutions.

5 Tools To Get Things DONE!

It is so hard to get yourself to work when you just don’t feel like doing it. From handling a deadline to working out or just cleaning your house, when you are feeling lazy it can be a real chore to get yourself started. Of course, once you get going you will probably find yourself breezing through it, which makes procrastination so pointless. But that doesn’t make the initial spark of activity any easier.

For the many people who find this to be the case, there is some help. No, it isn’t a swift boot in the behind, or some stupid platitude about picking yourself up by the belt loops and getting yourself in gear.

Instead, you can use these much more effective motivation tools that will help you get yourself moving and doing whatever is currently on the agenda.

1. Motivation Images

Motivation Images

This is a fun little Android app from the maker of House MD Quotes and WiFi Scanner. The idea is simple: having a few motivational, humorous images will go a long way to push you into doing what needs to be done. They have both common and rare motivationals with cats, weird pictures, laugh out loud observations and more. You can like/dislike select, add some to your favorites or share them with others on social networking sites synced with the app. He has so far started with more than 1,350 images, so you should be OK for awhile, until an update comes. It’s not practical, but its fun. Sometimes that is all you need to put your mind in the right place.

2. 8Tracks


If you haven’t found this site before, you will be in love by the time you finish your first browse of it. This is a place where you can make, share and listen to playlists with full songs. But this is more than just “good tunes for a good mood”. If you do a search for ‘motivation” or “motivational”, you will end up with hundreds of playlists. Some of these are up beat or inspiring songs, or even spoken word speeches, lectures and quotes. If you want something to help you while you work out, you can search for that. Or music to help you study or work. They have an iPhone/iPod app, so you can take them with you. Or just play them in your browser while you go about your business. It is my personal favorite music site, and one I use every day. Quick Tip: It can be annoying to search the site when you are signed in. Make sure you have selected the ‘Search All Mixes’ link for a broad search, or go by keyword to search your liked playlists. To make it really easy, sign out and search, then sign in if you want to like a playlist.

3. RoutineTaps


This is an extremely helpful app that you will be sure to love. It works by letting you set up questions about your own patterns and behavior. For example, how much time you spend working, exercising, sleeping or anything else. You save them on your profile, then answer it frequently. It recommends once a day, which will give you the most accurate results. It only takes a few minutes, so this shouldn’t inconvenience you. From there, it will create a graph of information so you can see all of your data in one place. It’s free to use and very helpful. It is surpris

ing to see how much you really do (or don’t do).

4. Don’t Break The Chain


The idea is a simple one based off of a motivation technique used by Jerry Seinfeld. It works by marking off the days you keep up with a single goal. The calender turns red on all the days you do what you are supposed to. The point is to not break the chain that results. It is a great motivator, effective in that it both gives a visual representation of your success, and keeps you focused on a single goal.

5. LazyMeter


One of the biggest mistakes people make is forcing themselves to use endless to-do lists that leave them feeling horribly overwhelmed. This program works by focusing on daily goals only, and so keeping it all in scale. Instead of putting a goal far off, you get to see your success every day. There is nothing more motivating than success. It even has a reminder system that is really great.


Getting up and moving can take a lot more effort than you might have to spare. Laziness can gather and leave you feeling like your mind and body have been dipped in concrete and left to dry. But with the tools above, you can break through the apathy and get yourself going. So make sure to try them out, and see how easy it is.

Jess is a productivity geek and business writer for Dobovo, the free online tool for business travelers!

Tips for Being Productive Outside the Office

If you have ever had a job working in an office, then you have probably heard plenty about productivity. Many bosses take great care about finding out how productive potential employees will be when looking to hire new staff, and productivity is often a big part of performance evaluations.

Productivity is simply a big part of having a job; however, productivity should extend outside the office. After all, going the extra mile is what separates the good employees and the excellent employees. But it can be difficult to be productive outside the office if you do not know how.

business productivity tips

Separate You Work and Social Life

One big part of being productive outside the office is separating your work and social life. One good way to help keep these two sides separate is to get a second phone line. This does not mean you need to carry two phones, since the SmartPhone app Line2 can work as a second phone line on a SmartPhone for business calls. Separating your phone lines can help you to seem more professional and productive.

To further keep your work and social lives separated, avoid making many friendships that might interfere with your work. It is fine to have a colleague or two that you get a drink with after work sometimes, but it might be a problem if you find yourself invited to your employee’s daughter’s birthday party.

This is a matter of common sense and personal judgment, since all business relationships are different, but it’s generally not a good idea for business associates on different levels of “the food chain” to get too close. This not only can cause people to become suspicious if you or your friend gets a raise or paid vacation, but it can also lower your productivity dealing with the issues that can arise.

Working From Home

Another situation that can give people trouble is when they have to work from home or a hotel, such as finishing and sending in a report while on a business trip. It can be distracting and demotivating if you do not have to get ready or dressed to go into work, so many people find themselves becoming less productive in these situations.

The best thing to do is pretend you are at work. When you wake up, take a shower and get dressed. This gets you in a working mindset. Set a strict schedule and follow it, and avoid all distractions such as television and friends. Also, make a list of things to do every night for the next day. This will help you keep track of exactly what you need to do.

If there is one thing that impresses employers and future employers, it is an individual’s ability to be productive outside the office. It is often the deciding factor when an employer is deciding between applicants for an open position or when deciding who they need to lay off. Increasing your productivity outside the office is a great way to put yourself ahead of the competition.

About the Author: Jessy is a stay-at-home mom and business blogger.