Productivity has always been a major factor for the eventual success or failure of a business. With more productive workers and more productive processes, you can get more done, achieve more excellence, and ultimately spend less money. Even your workers will be more satisfied with their jobs, and more likely to stick around, reducing turnover.

But productivity isn't exactly easy to come by. By some estimates, the average worker in the United States is only truly productive for about 3 hours a day. Individual attention is helpful to get those figures to rise, but you can't spend your day tailoring productivity strategies to each individual in your office. Instead, it's better to address productivity company-wide--with specific office changes that make everyone, including you, better at their jobs.

Here are ways to do it:

1. Choose the right colors

Different wall colors have very different psychological effects on your workers. For example, pink is a tranquilizing color that might decrease your employees' productivity, while red is an aggressive color that increases heart rate, so when used sparingly, it can increase productivity. Orange tends to elicit feelings of contentment, and white tends to stifle feelings of individuality and satisfaction. There's no single right or wrong answer when it comes to color, so experiment with different colors in different areas and see what works best for your office.

2. Pick a good scent

You might not immediately think of scents as a productivity booster, but they can have a drastic effect on factors like attention and mood. For example, the scent of pine tends to increase feelings of alertness, while cinnamon tends to improve focus. Lavender elicits a calming, relaxing feeling, and peppermint tends to improve mood. Don't rely on only one scent or eventually your workers will grow overly accustomed to it. Instead, cycle through different scents and keep your environment refreshed.

3. Give people space

Open-space offices have become more popular over the course of the past several years, being cited as a way to improve communication efficiency and make employees happier. However, a handful of recent studies have emerged to suggest that open-plan offices are inherently less productive than one with closed-off spaces. Even if your company ethos and brand voice lends itself to a more open, interactive experience for your employees, it could be advantageous to your bottom line if you give your employees more private space to do their work.

4. Play some music

Studies show that a bit of music playing in the background can be a major boon for employee productivity (and less face it, silent offices are boring). There are, however, a couple of caveats. Fist, a moderate volume tends to have the greatest effect on productivity--music that's too loud or too quiet won't get the job done. Second, personal preference factors heavily into whether a selection of music increases productivity for an individual. Namely, music that an individual likes and specifically chooses will make him/her more productive than a random sample. Accordingly, it's in your best interest to have a mutually decided-on playlist, or allow workers to listen to their own music through headphones.

5. Let there be light

Lighting is crucial to maintaining a healthy, happy, productive office environment. If you have windows, try to let as much natural light in as possible. Otherwise, make sure there's ample fluorescent lighting available to reduce eye strain for your workers and keep them focused on tasks. The absence of ample lighting can actually cause depression in some cases, so invest in the lighting in your office.

6. Make changes

Walking into the same building with the same walls, the same decorations, and the same desks, day in and day out, can grow to be unbearable. To resolve this issue, try changing things up every once in a while. Add a new splash of color to a room. Add a new decoration, or a new feature to the breakroom. It doesn't have to be a complete overhaul, but it does have to be noticeable. This will keep workers on their toes, and help them stay more content and more efficient in their daily roles.

A well-designed office can account for an increase in productivity of 20 percent or more, and these tips are the way for your business to get there. And if you're reluctant to make any drastic changes, remember this; you can always go back to the way things were. Don't be afraid of experimentation--if you don't try something new, you'll never know how much productivity potential you could be sacrificing.

Published on: Mar 24, 2016