We write lots about productivity at Lifehacker. There are tons of different methods and apps to consider, from Pomodoro to Getting Things Done, and the gear that complements it. But the key to investing in productivity is to be strategic in what you pursue — productivity isn't plug and play, not everything will work every time.
As we have pointed out before, there are three ingredients to productivity: energy, time and attention. To get the most out of your business, the best bang for your buck, try to invest in things where those three ingredients converge.
Business people via Shutterstock
A good place to start is the workplace itself. There is a trend towards flexibility in the workplace. This can mean remote work, time-shifted work, or more flexibility within the office itself. It has proven to be a productivity boon both for workers and businesses - employees are happier, more relaxed, and work better. Employers get the benefit of happier and healthier employees.
Here are some things you can do to create a flexible environment, one more conducive to productivity.
#1 Create different spaces for different work
One of the latest trends in office design is designing different spaces for different tasks and modes of work. In Sydney, Mirvac is building new offices with different spaces for quiet work, for meetings, for interaction and for everything in between. The idea is to unshackle employees from their desks, allowing workers to choose the best space for what they are doing, as well as their own work preferences.
While big companies like Mirvac are able to redesign on a massive scale, this isn't an option for everybody. But allowing people to work how they are most comfortable — using their phone on the couch, for example; and allowing change-up throughout the day, isn't beyond possible. Try and create different spaces throughout your office, like Mirvac has done with their standing, quiet, and communal areas. This doesn't take much, just strategic use of office furniture.
#2 Cross platform software
The next step in unshackling your workers is providing the technological capability to work from wherever they feel most comfortable, from whatever is most comfortable. This necessitates using products that can work from everywhere. Most of the major productivity and work services are now cross browser — Microsoft Office is available for free on ios, Google's drive services are available on anything with a browser, and specialised apps like Evernote and Dropbox can complement your workflow everywhere.
It can require a conscious effort to become more flexible — moving files from local servers to the cloud, for instance, but allowing employees to customise their workflow has seen benefits. After all, productivity has been shown to surge when employees are allowed to use their own devices.
#3 Create ergonomic workspaces
Researchers are constantly dredging up more ills that arise from sitting down all day. But there are loads of other little nasties, from bad posture to repetive stress injuries, that can come about from incorrectly setup work environments.
We've written before about how you can setup an ergonomically correct workspace. Having the correct chair — something adjustable with lumbar support, desk — at the correct height so you aren't hunching, and computer paraphernalia — monitors at eye level and keyboard and mouse close together, is the first step. Make sure you set it all up correctly — it makes a big difference over the long run.
#4 Use project management software
Married with more productive workspaces are new methods of organisation. When it comes to projects and staying on top of tasks, to-dolists and checklists don't cut it, and meetings take forever.
This is where good project management toolst, from Asana to Trello and Evernote, can really ramp up your workflow. There really isn't a best project management solution, so find one that suits you — an interface you like (columns, cards, bars etc.), the right combination of task management, tracking, comments and other features.
#5 Optimise the decor
Even while you turn your office upside down, creating new spaces for people to inhabit, remember to optimise the decor. Lighting, temperature and colour will all impact how employees perform.
Try and bring in as much light as you can - desk lights, skylights and smart lights. Natural light is best, as some people have issues with some forms of lighting.