America is busy. The average American spends 10.3 years of their life at work with the average office employee spending 5 years sitting at a desk and 2 years in meetings. Recruiters have the difficult job of wearing multiple hats, meaning they need to make every minute on the clock count toward completing something. Calling applicants, speaking to clients, filling out paperwork, and nurturing candidates is never ending work.
Everyone is searching for a new and profound way to boost his or her productivity — something like the “magic weight-loss pill.” While I’d always advise that you start with training yourself to build better working habits, scientists might actually be unearthing some new and strange techniques.
Potted Plants and Pet Policies
Office life can be straining. Between fluorescent bulbs, whirring air conditioners, and less-than-satisfactory chairs, it’s no wonder that desk jobs get a bad rep. Finding yourself sentenced to an office job doesn’t have to mean there’s no hope. A study done by the University of Exeter found that simply having a live, potted plant at your desk can cause an increase in productivity of 38%. The Identity Realisation research group also found that plants amount to a 46% increase in wellbeing and 45% increase in creativity. An older study theorized that being in nature is calming, increases focus, and aids in remedying mental fatigue.
Much like a great friend, pets are known to help humans through hard times — and they provide Internet-worthy comedic relief. Office animals have been an increasing trend within the last few years, and for good reason. A study done by Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who brought their pets to the office had their stress levels actually decline throughout the workday. Not to mention the great branding opportunity pets could provide, since the Internet is so enamored with animals!
Though it may take a bit of discussion to make a pet or plant policy that will actually work for everyone in the office, it is possible to make a plan that can help with adjustments. Of course, with allergies, this may not be a viable option for every office. Look into an office aquarium, which will avoid dander allergies, but will provide zen-ful running water and uplifting visuals. Elements as simple as communal candy dishes and sun lights at desks can boost morale as well as open the office to cultural experiences and celebrations.
Working from Home
Another practice many are successfully exploring is that of telework. The Payroll Blog estimates a national increase in production of $270 billion worth of work for companies who provide work from home options. With numbers like that, it’s easy to believe that more than 16 million people in the U.S. already work from home, at least part of the time. Money aside, providing a form of telework will remove geographical limitations, opening the company up to more talent options, broader culture, and a better reach of audiences.
Have three to do lists. The first will be for the day-to-day tasks, the second will be for the month, and the third will be for the quarter. This sounds like a lot of work, but what splitting up your tasks does is allow for less mental clutter, helping avoid what is known as the Zeigarnik Effect. The Zeigarnik Effect is what psychologists call the mind’s inability to forget unfinished tasks, creating a fixation and interfering with future tasks. In other words, you become so caught up on all the things you need to accomplish that you forget wins, psychologically get caught up on all that you have left to do, and, in turn, lose morale and focus.
It doesn’t matter where you keep your to-do lists — digitally or on old-fashioned paper — as long as you develop your to-do lists on separate documents so the two greater lists can be kept away from the current day’s priorities. Worry about the bigger goals when you have completed the current week’s work. Reassess your to do list at the beginning of the week and keep your day-to-day tasks to 5 to 7 actually attainable goals.
With 86% of Americans sitting at a desk all day, it might be time to consider how the environment we work in can be the barrier we need to overcome. In fact, successful people generally take their work areas very seriously. When it comes to productivity, recruiters and hiring managers cannot afford to lose focus. Build up your environment, and you might find you accomplish more.