Tag: office

Six office hacks to enhance productivity in the workplace

Great offices are not merely well decorated and thoughtfully designed, but also have a profound effect on workers’ productivity and their sense of well-being.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office says, “It’s one of the main reasons why there’s a trend the world over for companies to make over their boring and old furniture by including stylish, pleasing chairs, couches and desks which is transforming utilitarian, drab spaces.”

Here’s how great office space can enhance productivity in the work place:

Boring furniture will make you lazy – and bored
Being surrounded with boring furniture, individuals oftentimes lose interest in work and lead to a drop in productivity “Even if we don’t think dull workplaces impact productivity they do by creating a subconscious listlessness that is associate with dreary surroundings,” Andrews says.

Vibrant colours bring enthusiasm
Lots of offices are choosing furniture and fittings in bright colours. “Bright colours assist in lifting a person’s mood. It’s a good way to alleviate stress, as well as increase productivity,” says Andrews.

Standing desks making your healthier
Several studies have discovered a link between the amount of time an individual spends sitting and her or his odds of developing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

For example, one 2010 Australian study, discovered that for every additional hour participants spent sitting on a daily basis, their overall threat of dying within the study period (7 years) increased by 11%.

Says Andrews: ”A 2012 study discovered that if the average person in America decreased her or his sitting time to 3 hours a day, life expectancy would increase by 2 years.”

Keep it clean, and orderly
“Cleanliness and order are very important factors for an office that feels good to work in,” noted Andrews. “ A disorganised office deprives workers of the enthusiasm and send a message than sloppiness is OK.”

A clean and orderly office, helps to keep workers comfortable and productive.

Fixed spaces for handy items
A good idea is to always keep things in their place, as well as keeping them handy.

“Often workers put off their work because they need to get up and go to an additional place for finishing the task or wonder around trying to find something like a stapler. Keeping items handy won’t just speed work up, but it also makes you more productive,” says Andrews.

Where possible let the daylight in
“We all know the uncomfortable feeling of being stuck in a windowless room under fluorescent lights during daylight hours,” says Andrews. “Lack of natural light has profoundly negative effect on people’s health and therefor productivity.”

In a study entitled Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life researchers at the Neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago, reported that the detrimental impact of working in a windowless environment is a universal phenomenon.

It concluded that there is a strong relationship between workplace daylight exposure and office workers’ sleep, activity and quality of life.

“Employees who did not have windows reported reduced scores than their counterparts upon life quality measures associated with vitality and physical problems. Also, they had poorer outcomes within measures of overall sleep efficiency, sleep quality, daytime dysfunction, as well as sleep disturbances,” Andrews added.

Furniture installed by Inspiration Office is created in South Africa by AngelShack. It is German designed but locally produced to international standards. All furniture is VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds such as adhesives and dyes) free, made from sustainable material and coated with anti-microbial finishing.

AngelShack is one of the first companies in the world to apply this anti-germ technology.

Most annoying office habits revealed

A major study by Rubbermaid in Canada has revealed the most annoying breakroom habits of office workers.

Top of the list of annoying office behaviour is leaving a splattered microwave (37%), followed by dishes piled in the sink instead of being put in the dishwasher (28%), and co-workers heating up or eating foods with strong odours (21%).

More than 1000 Canadian office workers surveyed by Angus Reid Forum on behalf of Rubbermaid found that nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) believe that men are the guilty parties and leave the most mess in the kitchen.

Junior employees and interns are also being blamed, with 65% and 56% of respondents respectively citing them as the mess-makers.

When asked whether they themselves have left a mess without tidying up after themselves, only one in 10 respondents (6%) admitted they had.

Of those surveyed, 68% stated they have never confronted a co-worker about leaving a messy kitchen, and only 15% have directly spoken to the person they believe committed a kitchen faux-pas. Other tactics used by workers to address a colleague include leaving a note posted in the kitchen (13%), sending an all-staff email and hoping the intended recipient gets the message (10%), leaving the suspected colleague an anonymous ‘post it’ note on their desk, and telling their boss or manager (both 2%).

Other survey findings include:

  • 44% of Canadians who work in offices with shared kitchens bring their lunch to work every day;
  • 29% of millennial respondents don’t bring a lunch to work so they don’t have to eat with colleagues, which they prefer not to do;
  • A third of female respondents (33%) have complained or gossiped about a co-worker who they believe leaves messes in the office kitchen; and
  • 57% of those who rarely or never bring their lunches to work cite that the office microwave has “more splatter stains than an episode of CSI”.

Source: Stationery News

Office tech fails cost nine working days a year

UK workers are losing on average nine working days due to technology failing around the office, a new survey by Ebuyer.com has revealed.

The survey of UK office workers, conducted by the UK’s largest independent online tech retailer, revealed that one in ten workers wastes up to 30 minutes a day due to technology not working in the workplace, with the average time lost totalling 15 minutes and 17 seconds.

With 253 working days in 2018, this totals over nine working days being lost next year – a staggering number, especially for small businesses.

Workers in the legal sector lost the most amount of time each day due to technology issues, spending an average of 17 minutes and 10 seconds waiting for issues to be resolved. Those working in the IT industry lost on average 17 minutes.

Engineering and manufacturing workers also featured in the top three, losing on average 16 minutes, 44 seconds.

The industries that saw workers lose the most time due to office tech fails were:

• Legal (17 minutes, 10 seconds).
• Information technology (17 minutes, 2 seconds).
• Engineering and manufacturing (16 minutes, 44 seconds).
• Recruitment and HR (16 minutes, 26 seconds).
• Marketing, advertising and PR (15 minutes, 59 seconds).
• Accountancy, banking and finance (15 minutes, 40 seconds).
• Property and construction (15 minutes, 28 seconds).
• Healthcare (15 minutes, 23 seconds).
• Teaching and education (15 minutes, 9 seconds).
• Public services and administration (15 minutes, 8 seconds).

In an ever increasing digital world, it is no surprise that internet connectivity issues was the most common tech fail in UK offices, with 44% of workers claiming this has affected them in the last six months.

Computers and laptops crashing was the second most common tech fail (41%), followed by the printer breaking (40%).As businesses look to implement measures throughout the company in line with GDPR, which comes into effect from May 2018, a worrying amount of workers claim they have accidentally sent an email to the wrong person (15%), with a further 7% losing time at work due to the work system being hacked.

Over 6% of workers have accidentally clicked on a spam email – a sure fire way to cause a headache for the company’s IT team.

Dave Jones, product buyer at Ebuyer.com, said: “The research we conducted has revealed some really shocking figures. Over nine working days lost to technology is sure to have a huge impact on businesses, especially small businesses and start-ups.

“Making sure that technology is regularly updated will stop issues with computers regularly crashing, and having systems backed up on servers should keep time lost to a minimum. Keeping equipment around the office updated and replacing old and slow technology may cost in the short term, but the time saved will soon balance this out.

“Keeping office supplies stocked is also a quick and easy way to keep time lost to a minimum, as over one in seven (13%) workers lost time in work due to the printer running out of paper.”

By Nick Ismail for Information Age 

Open plan layouts are the Marmite of the office

Open plan offices are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them. And they continue to strongly divide opinion in the workplace.

But one thing is for sure, they are likely to be around for a while as businesses struggle to balance the tension between the need for immediate collaboration and the demand for individual, quiet spaces where people can concentrate.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says that his company continues to install both open plan offices and private office spaces in equal measure despite the growing global pushback against open plan.

“It’s a horse for courses situation. There is no cut and dried winner in the debate. It really does depend on whether open plan is best for your employees and the way they work rather than a philosophical debate.”

Andrews does acknowledge however that there is a growing body of recent evidence that shows open plan makes it harder to work.

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology that studied 40 000 workers in 300 US office buildings concluded that enclosed private offices outperformed open-plan layouts in most aspects of Indoor Environmental Quality – namely in acoustics, privacy and proxemics (how uncomfortable people feel when forced into close proximity to other people) issues.

Said Andrews: “Benefits of enhanced ‘ease of interaction’ were smaller than the penalties of increased noise level and decreased privacy resulting from open-plan office configuration.”

Another study by SP Banbury and DC Berry showed that loud noise has become one of the greatest irritants at work. It revealed that 99% of employees reported that their concentration was impaired by various types of office noise, especially telephones left ringing at vacant desks and people talking in the background. A further study showed that 68% of those surveyed become frustrated when sounds levels rise above normal conversation level.

Even employees at Apple, which just spent $5 billion and six years building a centralised campus around the open-plan office concept, are reportedly dissatisfied. Some are said to have insisted on their own space outside of the new spaceship style building.

“But, just like a taste for Marmite, many businesses have a definite passion for the lack of walls or other physical barriers in open plan offices.

“Open spaces makes it easier for employees to interact with each other on a regular basis. The constant intermingling not only generates a sense of camaraderie, it also enhances the flow of information and teamwork.”

Andrews noted than another benefit which may not immediately spring to mind is that of budget.

“Having an open plan office can save the company money, as costs are reduced on construction, utilities and office equipment. It is more efficient to have everyone in one room in terms of utility bills and office supplies. It also provides the best flexibility to accommodate extra capacity for when the company grows as desks can easily be reconfigured.

“It really comes to how your company works best,” Andrews concluded.

Don’t just sit there!

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.

And there’s a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause.

Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy, said that most workers have gotten so used to the notion of sitting all day, they don’t even think about the damage it could be doing to their bodies.

“Our analysis shows that people sit in a car or bus to get to work and once there, sit at their desks, sit in meeting rooms and even sit in the canteen for lunch. And what compounds the problem these days, is the culture of answering emails after work hours.

“This can easily addd an extra hour of sitting to the day. This means workers will typically sit for between 10 and 12 hours a day without even realising it. And it can have a devastating impact on peoples’ health – even if they exercise frequently.”

One study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a with those who logged more than four hours a day of screen time.

Those with greater screen time had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and about a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

Andrews added that if there was ever doubt of the effects of sitting, most people ‘shrink’ during the day. The reason lies in the vertebral column, specifically in the inner part of the vertebral disc. The discs in the spine are composed of a gelatin-like material which provides cushioning and protection to the spine.

“It’s your body’s shock absorber. And with the pounding your vertebrae take during the day with by sitting, it needs time to rest, rejuvenate and elongate again. Sitting for hours literally causes us to shrink a little during the work day.

“There is however a simple way to combat the negative effects of sitting on our health, “ Andrews noted.

“People in offices should take a movement break every 30 minutes. No matter how much you exercise, you still need to do this. Research shows that people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death.”

Andrews said that while people know they need to move more, guidelines on what the entails should be more specific and should be put up in every office and encouraged by management.

“For every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting, stand up and move/walk for five minutes at brisk pace to reduce the health risks from sitting.”

Study results indicate that those who frequently sat in stretches less than 30 minutes had a 55% lower risk of death compared to people who usually sat for more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

People who frequently sat for more than 90 minutes at a stretch had a nearly two-fold greater risk of death than those who almost always sat for less than 90 minutes at a stretch, he said.

Andrews added that an added benefit of moving every 30 minutes was to encourage older workers to move.

“As we age we tend naturally to become more sedentary, but this increases the risk of poor health. Everyone will benefit from moving every 30 minutes. It’s important people just make it a habit.”

Lifestyle-focused work environments are for everyone

What time do you power down your laptop at night? Look at the plug next to your bed. How many devices are plugged in there? Your answers to these questions have probably revealed you’re at the office more than you’re actually in it, tucking into some bite-sized admin with breakfast at the corner café or catching a quick IM meeting from the back seat of an Uber. Your staff are no doubt doing the same. So, how do you restore work-life balance to encourage happy, healthy and motivated employees when everyone’s overflowing inbox is tagging along home with them? Make them feel at home with a lifestyle-focused work environment.

At the moment, a fundamental shift away from hierarchically designed offices, toward more inclusive, collaborative spaces, is taking place. One major reason for this is the growing platoon of Millennials in the modern workforce. These super-social and adept multi-taskers like open plan coffee-shop style environments, tech bedecked meeting hubs, acoustic pods, and even working from treadmills or barber shop chairs is not an unusual request these days. As a result, more and more companies are starting to mimic the trendy offices of the Googles and Facebooks of the world. But what if that doesn’t align with your brand… and your older staff just can’t comprehend the idea of morning meetings in an indoor treehouse?

Embracing lifestyle-focused work spaces doesn’t mean your office needs to look like a children’s playground. It’s simply about making the office more flexible to your employee and business needs. That means the first step to an ideal workspace is to understand your company requirements, culture and staff. Traders are bound to their workstations, attorneys require privacy, creatives like space to throw ideas around in, and so all the lifestyle-focused workspaces for these kinds of employees will need to be different to efficiently support the way in which they operate. However, there are a few minor changes that we’ve noticed can help to streamline any and every office, improving efficiency while giving it a homey air.

Comfortable soft seating hubs, intimate task lighting, quiet areas, private spaces, warm colour palettes, and the smell of brewing coffee are just a few minor tweaks that make most staff feel at home in the office. But another major stand-out benefit and consideration of lifestyle-focused work spaces is scalability. Lifestyle focused spaces allow for expansion without the costs of a new workstation for each new staff member. Instead, employees may move around an environment, without desk ownership, working from a pod or quiet room, canteen or bar-height collaboration table.

A lifestyle focused workspace that looks and feels more welcoming and comfortable will put your staff at ease, make their work-lives more meaningful and encourage them to invest more passion and drive into a company that is investing in their in-office experience and overall work-life balance. After all, home is where the heart is. Start your journey to a more lifestyle-focused workspace today and get more heart from your staff, as well as a responsive and agile office that changes and grows around you, instead of the other way around.

By Robyn Gray, Associate Director for Tétris South Africa

Top five SA workplace trends in 2017

South African offices are changing rapidly as the workplace continues to shift from a utilitarian place where you earn your money from 9 to 5 to a much more people=friendly, welcoming space where we will spend more than 50% of our time during our working lives.

Emma Leith, Interior Decorator at workplace specialists Giant Leap, shares her top five workplace trends in South Africa for 2017:

The end of fixed workspace layouts

Creating multifunctional community space as well as a diverse selection of areas is becoming increasingly important in order to accommodate constantly changing needs; allowing people to have greater fluidity, mobility and flexibility in the workspace.

“This trend can be seen in the form of modular furniture, work benches and sit-stand desks. Communal areas are becoming an important part of the workplace where people can get together for an informal meeting, to simply enjoy a cup of coffee alone or with a college or to collaborate across teams,” says Leith.

The Modern Office: A Home Away From Home

The office fit out is becoming increasingly geared towards creating a more lived in and homey feel.

“It’s a home away from home type of scenario. This is created by providing cosy, welcoming lounges, communal canteens, and comfy break out areas.”

Leith says that this ultimately provides for a better working environment allowing for greater employee satisfaction. This trend interlinks with point one above as people now have the option to work in more relaxed, comfortable environments.

“Residential furniture is another element that is being used more and more to create that warm, never-want-to-leave-the-office feeling,” Leith added.

Private Areas

The growing trend towards the open plan office generates the need for private pods/ areas, as the open plan concept does not always provide for the best working environment.

“Private pods are needed whether it be to have a quiet phone call, meeting or place to work with no distractions.  Therefore a combination of spaces is essential in the modern workplace,” notes Leith.

Private areas can be innovatively designed telephone booths, sound proof quiet rooms and sound proof space dividers. Increasingly, various new “pods” are being installed in the workplace in South Africa.

“Secluded pods allow office workers to meditate, smash things or scream and will be commonplace in two years time,”  Leith notes.

Themed Meeting Rooms To Portray Company Identity

Themed meeting rooms are becoming important areas for companies to portray their identity, values and what they do.

This may be in the form of wallpaper, graphics, furniture, lighting, or colour.

This allows for each meeting room to take on a certain personality, ultimately making them more interesting and inviting spaces to be in, as well as emphasising the firm’s identity.

Play Space

Not just for trendy companies like Google any more or start ups burning through cash.

“Games such as pool and Ping-Pong are also being brought into the communal areas which allow colleagues to interact with other on a more relaxed level as well as help them to relax.

“This trend is growing in South Africa is an effective way to break the office stress cycle and rest the brain, “ Leith concluded.

Giant Leap launch offices on demand in SA

Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap have launched FutureSpace – a first of its kind, high-end office on demand at 61 Katherine Street in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says the new 2 000 square metre office could be thought of a mix between “a five star business class lounge and on-demand, sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb.

“FutureSpace is fully fledged office with absolutely everything a business requires from high speed fibre WiFi, concierge and support staff to meeting rooms, video conferencing, a gym in the building and 24 hour electronic security. And of course barista coffee and food.”

Trim noted that the shift in social attitudes from “ownership to access” and the growing sharing economy was now beginning to impact the global perspective of the workplace and FutureSpace was in direct response to this.

Robin Magid, executive director of Investec Property, says that the FutureSpace office in Sandton was an “office of the future”.

“We plan to role out many more offices in the business centres in South Africa – as well as creating an international presence starting in London. All will be in high end locations and close to good transport links.

“The FutureSpace competitive advantage is the synergy of our core property locations and the design expertise of Giant Leap. No one else offers that.”

FutureSpace offers a luxury hotel type of experience that offers restaurants and hotel bookings, luggage storage services and advice on the local area.

“With no leasing commitments and only paying for what you use, FutureSpace offers entrepreneurs, start ups, freelancers and even existing businesses easy access to fully equipped established offices. It is also appealing to multinationals that can quickly establish an office in SA,” says Trim.

Trim says that a local start up tech company and an international company taking its first steps into South Africa had already rented space.

Trim added: ”It can take months to find suitable offices space and just as long again to install IT services, furniture and interior design. With FutureSpace you simply book and pay for your office online – or simply walk in – and you can start working straight away. The front desk will be expecting you.”

Instant bookings can be made online through an online portal. It will also allow clients to book and pay for all extra services they need.

The FutureSpace offices are designed to meet different office needs with monthly pricing ranging from R3 500 to R25 000.

There are executive office spaces designed for longer term leases, a monthly membership that can be purchased for the visitor area for drop in visitors as well as co-working spaces that are specially tailored to entrepreneurs and those who need to work closely together.

All users of FutureSpace can also gain access to hi-tech boardrooms, training rooms and lounges.

The offices are equipped with ergonomically designed furniture including award winning seating. Any furniture can also be changed to the users’ exact preferences.

Businesses can also just hire meeting facilities only for the likes of strategic meetings and brainstorming sessions.

More details and bookings are available at www.futurespaceoffice.co.za.

It wasn’t long after smart phones, tablets and ubiquitous Wi-Fi that workplace experts predicted the end of the office. And while a telecommuting trend took root for a while, it is now beginning to reverse with large American companies like IBM, Honeywell and Yahoo leading the change.

But also thanks to offices that are now much more human friendly.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says:  “The thinking went along these lines: if technology allow people to work anywhere, then who needs the office?

“As it turns out, the vast majority of workers do—because work, at its essence, is a social process. Even people armed with the latest mobile device still come to the office to connect with other people and to access technology they can’t carry around.

“The office didn’t go away, but it’s now evolving into something fundamentally different.

“We are in the midst of an office renaissance.”

And the proof is evident in some of the world’s biggest companies.

After several decades of allowing employees to perform their jobs remotely, IBM recently announced that it wanted many of its remote workers back in the office.

Between 1995 and 2009, the company shrank its office workforce. Other companies soon followed suit: Work-from-home became a desirable perk of many white-collar jobs.

Yahoo has also reversed its stance on home workers and said that since calling back its staff, employee engagement was up, product launches increased significantly and teams were thriving.

American conglomerate Honeywell also joined the back to the office trend by banning telecommuting for most of its workers worldwide.

Says Andrews: “It’s not surprising there is a swing back to the office. The workplace has become a catalyst for energy and buzz.

“People are again looking for inspiration and creativity at work, as well as human-centered technology that makes life easier. These ideas are being embraced and adopted at a rapid pace thanks to new people friendly design and facilities.”

Traditionally, offices were focused on uniformity and standards. Much of the space was dedicated to individual workstations, separated into departments, where people spent the majority of their time working alone. A cafeteria provided a place to eat lunch and large meeting rooms were used mostly for collaboration.

But by reducing the number of dedicated individual workstations and creating an ecosystem of spaces, people now have the freedom to choose how and where to work.

“Appealing offices now have a social hub, previously just a cafeteria, which shifts away from supporting just nourishment to now also becoming a place for workers to connect and collaborate,” says Andrews.

“They also have a nomadic camp—purposely placed near the social hub— to support mobile behaviours. The additional settings offer mobile workers a place to work alone or with others. Workers can see and be seen by coworkers, or choose a private setting for focused work.”

The concept of a ‘resident neighbourhood’ is also proving popular and includes spaces for managers in the open plan to promote learning and quick problem solving. Resource centres offers workers a space to securely store coats and bags and access meeting tools.

“People want to feel a connection to the places where they work, where they can see themselves in the space, versus something that feels imposed upon them. Well designed offices and productivity gains from working closely with smart people is driving the office renaissance,“ Andrews concludes.

Employees intend on taking advantage of their sick leave to stay away from work when in truth they really just can’t face a day in the office.

Almost 40% of South Africans are planning on “pulling a sickie” in June or July, according to a survey released by Pharma Dynamics on Monday.

The generic pharmaceutical company polled 1 500 workers across the country to find out how people were gearing up for the colds and flu season. However, respondents also let slip the time of year they are most likely to ring in sick, said Pharma Dynamics.

Bad weather coupled with colds and flu
A combination of miserable weather and the expected spate of colds and flu in winter makes June and July the most popular months of the year to take a duvet day, said Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Nicole Jennings.

“Nearly a third of those polled admitted that they’ve pulled a sickie before – 45% of whom said they do so two to three times a year, while a few chancers (15% in fact) do so even more often. The 40% whose conscience probably gets the better of them, can only bring themselves to do so once annually.”

Jennings said what makes matters even worse is that those who pretend to be sick don’t do so on their own.

“More than a whopping 51% rope in their partners and/or children to take a duvet day with them – 20% either didn’t have a partner or a child, which implied that if they did, they’d probably get them to bunk with them too. The remaining 29% preferred to do so solo.”

The result of sickness-related absenteeism on the economy has been enormous, according to the most recently available Adcorp Holdings’ employment index.

Cumulatively, since 2000 the economy lost R55.2bn in real terms due to sickness, the report dated 2013 shows.

The index found that between 2009 and 2011, one-quarter of all workers claimed the maximum statutory allowance for sick leave, which is 36 days in a three-year cycle. It showed that the average output per worker in 2012 was R145 233 per year – or R586.19 per working day. In 2011 this loss of output due to sickness totalled R4.29bn

At the time Adcorp said it was alarming that sick leave in South Africa had been rising continuously.

More recently, South Africa was ranked last among 19 nations in a global survey that measured healthcare system efficiency – the ability to deliver maximum results at the lowest possible cost.

The Future Health Index, commissioned by Dutch tech company Philips, showed that South Africa’s efficiency ratio was the lowest out of the 19 countries in the study, which included countries such as France, the US, Argentina, United Arab Emirates, China and Brazil.

South Africa scored 4.4 compared to the group average of 10.5.

Source: Fin24

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