5 Off-the-wall Productivity Hacks Worth a Try

Staff productivity is critical to business success, but what are the best ways to get the most out of your employees? Pay them more than the competition in an effort to make them work harder? Block all distractions and tell them to knuckle down? Give them time management tools and hope they use them wisely?

They say that great businesses are built with great people, so looking after your team should be high on any business agenda. Rather than using tired techniques, more enlightened companies have started to recognize the importance of employee happiness in increasing productivity at work – by up to 50% if research by the New Economics Foundation is anything to go by.

What’s more, using some of that out-of-the-box thinking that business leaders are meant to be so expert at, it’s not difficult to come up with some genius solutions to make your team happy and at no cost to your HR budget. Here are 5 great hacks that may just have the desired effect.

1. Every office needs a dog

“Research has shown that canine colleagues can improve staff wellbeing and productivity,” says The Guardian. Various other studies have confirmed that taking your dog to work can be enormously motivating, while pets generally boost morale and reduce stress levels.

It is a well-known fact that people relax around their pets, so getting an office dog or having a regular ‘Bring Your Dog To Work Day’ may just give your team that elusive productivity boost. And while pets in the office exude a calming influence, taking an interest in the animal is a great way to facilitate team bonding and deepen relationships between co-workers.

2. Introduce nap time

Did you know that employees at Chinese technology giant Huawei take a 1 hour lunchtime nap every day? It’s quite common in China, with many employers making nap time mandatory for staff. Do they know something we don’t?

Many studies have proven beyond doubt that ‘power napping’ during the day can have beneficial effects. Only 20 minutes’ sleep can restore alertness, particularly during the mid-afternoon productivity slump or after a bad night’s sleep. Why not allow your team members to take a catnap when their body tells them to? All you need is some comfy chairs in a quiet room in the office and blackout curtains.

3. Let cute cat pics work their magic

Looking at pictures of kittens, puppies or other adorable, fluffy animals reduces stress and makes us feel happier, say the scientists. It’s to do with the ‘baby schema’ effect, according to behavioral biologist Konrad Lorenz who discovered that human or animal faces characterized by a round shape, large eyes and a small nose brings out our soft, caring side.

Interestingly, research including a study carried out by Hiroshima University has shown that looking at pictures of adorable fluffy kittens, puppies, etc can also make us more productive. How about displaying baby animal images in the office or as computer wallpapers or screensavers? Or sharing a funny cat meme or video to lighten the mood? In terms of achieving efficiencies at work, this has got to be a low risk, high reward strategy that will be a lot of fun trying out.

4. Work standing up

Frequently shifting position while working may be all that’s required to feel re-energized when productivity is flagging, particularly for sedentary office workers. Sitting down all day long can have major long term repercussions including chronic back and shoulder pain, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Ergonomically adjustable standing desks are now gaining popularity in offices everywhere as a convenient way to switch between sitting and standing, while the user’s continuous small movements will keep the body and brain active. Or take your team for a ‘walking meeting’ in the fresh air, said to boost creative thinking and problem-solving.

5. Employ cheerleaders

Finally, here’s another quirky productivity boosting idea from China, albeit one that’s way out of step with equality practices in offices over here. Many Chinese companies employ young, pretty female ‘programmer motivators’ whose job it is to sweeten the otherwise dull working day of their male computer programmers.

From fetching breakfast to playing ping pong, engaging in social chitchat to giving neck massages, the ‘fun work environment’ thus created is apparently doing wonders to improve the programmers’ job performance and motivation. What a surprise.

Perhaps best to take this one with a pinch of salt and a raised eyebrow…

About the author: Mike James is an experienced business writer specializing in HR, tech, and cybersecurity. On the latter, he has contributed to many of the leading publications both online and in print – such as StaySafeOnline, GlobalSign, Tech London and more.

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