How Your Work Environment Influences Your Workflow

Learn how your work environment influences your workflow.

Zight | November 01, 2019 | 6 min read time

Article Last Updated: July 16, 2023

How Your Work Environment Influences Your Workflow

The space you work in ultimately affects the quality of work you are putting out. Most companies have some sort of goal with regards to employee productivity, as this is important for output and overall well-being. Whether you’re working in a traditional office setting or remotely, there are many factors that can help or hurt your productivity.

Regardless of the space you handle work duties in, there are several different ways to improve this area for enhanced work production.


1. Lighting

In any place, the amount of light is important. While working though, if you’re in an environment that has poor light sources, personal health can falter. Most workspaces use fluorescent lights because it’s affordable and an energy efficient alternative to incandescent lighting, however it’s actually one of the worst sources to use. There is evidence suggesting that fluorescent lighting triggers migraines and causes eye strain because of the quality of light being emitted. According to a study from the National Institute of Health, fluorescent lighting may increase UV-related eye diseases by up to 12%. In an office, talk to your supervisor about installing LED lights instead, as they produce little to no radiation, and are more energy efficient.

If you work remotely at home, opt for setting up your office area in a space that has maximum natural light. A study from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concluded that people who spend more time in natural lighting as opposed to artificial have increased productivity and alertness. The data reconfirms from other studies that controlled daylight in built environments can reduce eyestrain, which can lead to improved workflow. With ample natural lighting you’ll be able to stay more focused, as well as reduce your energy bill.‍


2. Organization

Your work area is sacred- it’s where you’re expected to meet deadlines, conduct projects, and complete daily tasks. Research from Management Decision has shown that conscientious people make more errors in a messy environment than in a tidy one, meaning that a disorganized space can be detrimental on work accuracy and management. Because the brain is trying to process all the items in the area, it’s harder to focus on the task at hand. Think about the amount of time wasted looking for an important document or item. If everything has a place in your office area you’re less likely to interrupt your workflow. Remove everything from your desk, cleaning it completely. After that, put back the items that are only critical for daily use.

In your home office, organization is especially essential as you probably have a larger space to keep in order. Establish work zones where you can delegate what type of activity happens in your office, ensuring that each area has the proper equipment and tools to help you be successful. Utilizing cube storage bins in your office will help keep a structured system between files, office supplies, and anything else you’d need on hand. Make sure you’re digitally organized as well! Do weekly clean outs of emails, images, and online files that take up too much space on your computer to minimize overload.


3. Unwanted Noise

When you’re at work, there are always distractions that can hinder work performance. Open office concepts are becoming more popular because of the easy collaboration and interface, enhancing employee communication. However with coworkers bustling around, or people chatting too loudly, noise distractions can throw you off your stride. In today’s day and age, plugging into some tunes has become more of a norm in the workforce, especially those who work mainly on a computer. Listening to music while working has been shown to be a factor in helping increase productivity. Investing in a quality pair of headphones that will cancel out any other noise around you will help keep you stay on track.

Sound distraction isn’t as much of an issue when working from home. However this doesn’t mean you should work in complete silence! Music with lyrics has been shown to actually disrupt our focus when trying to work. Our brain is trying to process the lyrics of a song as well as doing tasks- something that overloads our minds. If you’re doing a simpler task such as going through your inbox, lyrical songs are okay, but if you’re doing something that requires more brain power try changing it up. Instead, listen to music without any lyrics, such as classical or another instrumental tunes. The benefit of being home is that you can project your music on a speaker, or directly from your computer without worrying about bothering anyone!


4. Sitting + Standing Desk

With 86% of Americans being sedentary at a desk for eight hours a day, having a desk that accommodates to you is important. If your body feels sore and achy after a long day, there could be a variety of factors that are hurting you. If you have poor posture, reinforcing this bad etiquette day after day will further misalign your body. Try to remind yourself to adjust how you’re sitting to ensure that you’re not hunching over a keyboard while doing work. Your mouse and keyboard should be positioned in a way so your elbows are at your sides, with your arms at or below a 90 degree angle. Your muscles won’t be straining to reach the keyboard, and your body will be able to relax a little more while working.

The benefit of remote working is that you can create or purchase a standing desk. A study from Health Partners published research concluded that standing desks help improve energy levels and mood at work, compared to people sitting at work all day. If your back hurts after an eight hour work day, standing up and working can help reduce this, as prolonged sitting can enhance chronic back pain. At home, find a ledge where you can stand and work, or create your own standing desk station by investing in a tall table that you can type at. Ergonomically, the table height should be at or slightly below elbow height, with 20-28 inches between your face and the computer screen. Your neck and back will thank you later!


5. Hand-Written Records

Oftentimes we’re in a meeting, or at our desk when we’re handed a task. For some, it’s easy to remember and make a mental note of what needs to be done. Most times this isn’t the case though, and it can slip one’s mind. A 2014 study showed that note-taking with an actual pen or pencil is more effective in learning as opposed to typing information on a laptop. The researchers found that taking notes on laptops results in “shallower processing”, meaning it doesn’t help you fully absorb the information in a way that you’ll be able to remember it later on. Especially during the work day with different facets of tasks being thrown at you, having it all recorded is best when you need to re-organize everything.

A planner, calendar, or notebook that you can keep on hand will go a long way in keeping you on track during the day. Planners can improve productivity when it comes to sectioning off times to complete work duties, as well as holding you accountable to be able to get things done on schedule. Whether at home or in the office, having a notebook nearby will enhance your production, and lower your stress levels, as you won’t be left wondering what you’re forgetting at the end of the work day.

Some work weeks are more stressful than others, however there are ways to help alleviate this to prevent burnout. With these tips, your productivity and engagement can increase, furthering the level of work you achieve. Creating an area, with the proper tools, will strengthen your work flow and sustain well-being. Tools like Zight (formerly CloudApp) can also help you increase your productivity and enhance your workflow. Download Zight (formerly CloudApp) today.

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