How To Boost Workplace Productivity

Team During MeetingIf your employees are sitting hour after hour, doggedly slogging through those plans or reports or proposals, they only look like their maxing out their productivity. Truth be told, they’re not—not even close. Without necessarily realizing it, most of us could stand to be more productive most days. And there are countless ways to do it.

Of course there’s the usual workplace advice for improving productivity. We’re not thumbing our noses at for listing things like encouragement, rewards, follow through and teamwork as productivity boosters; they can all play important roles.

But what about the unexpected, even the counterintuitive? Like doing more standing/less sitting, taking frequent breaks, unplugging, changing the lighting in your workspace, laughing, even cyber-slacking. Growing research says that things like how you sit, how you move and how you breathe—your posture and how comfortable you are—have a direct impact on your cognitive abilities, your ability to focus and how effectively you work.

In fact, studies say, personal comfort levels are a huge deal. Take the air temperature. It’s comfortable at 77 degrees, but at 68, productivity and accuracy plummet. And one of the biggest ways we shape our thoughts is through physical movement. Our brains, apparently, look to our faces and bodies to see how we feel. Specifically, power poses increase testosterone, so when you spread out, open up and take up more space, it puts you in a productive state of mind and gives you the energy and confidence to handle pretty much anything, including work.

On the other hand, a big productivity killer, not to mention health killer, is sitting. And its killer effects are right up there with smoking! That’s been pretty bad news for a workforce that sits eight, 10, 12 hours a day. At a minimum, you should be standing up and taking even a five-minute spin around the office every hour or so. You’re not only mitigating the horrible physicial effects of sitting but also clearing your head and yes, even if it doesn’t look like it, recharging your productivity. Most experts, though, suggest doing much more, like using adjustable work stations that alternative sitting and standing, or even treadmill/desk combos if you can. (Cost is still a factor for a lot of businesses.)

So get creative; look for alternatives. Stand and walk around when you’re on the phone. The latest trend? Standing meetings. You’re not sitting, and these meetings don’t go on and on…!  Now there are walking meetings, conducted outside in nice weather. Fresh air, deep breaths and an efficient (read: short) meeting—what could be more productive than that?

What’s counterintuitive to some about boosting productivity is that it’s often what takes you briefly out of  work mode and alters your focus and perspective that makes you more productive—not doubling down on your determination to keep grinding on for another hour or two. A few other examples:

    • Animal pictures and videos. It’s not cyberslacking after all! reported that this makes people happier, improves performance and sharpens attention to detail. (Ha! We knew it!!)


    • Pets. reported on studies that found that dogs in the workplace (but also a duck, a pot-bellied pig and an opossum) boost morale and productivity, reduce stress and blood pressure and foster communication and cooperation among their humans.


    • Laughter. This is a biggie! says the best reason to have a belly laugh at the office? Laughter's a huge productivity enhancer and business booster. Click the link to read the whole article--and take a copy to your boss!

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Have you tried non-traditional ways to boost productivity in your business?

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