The inability to focus or “get in the zone” is a struggle every human faces one or more times throughout their life. Though many people first point to cognitive ability, the brain is not always the one to blame for lack of focus. In fact, factors found in an environment can significantly impact one’s capacity to focus.
Captain Jako Hall spends most of his time in an untraditional work setting and is familiar with how different types of environments can alter productivity levels. Hall says that the environment can affect physical and mental health, ultimately playing into productivity output. He dives deeper into what kind of environmental elements influence work production here:
For the 2nd International Building Control Conference, Procedia Engineering published a study overview highlighting employee influences present in physical office environments. The article pointed out factors that affect productivity and work concentration, including temperature.
In the UK, fifty per cent of British workers deem their office space too hot during summer months, and fifty-two per cent say their workspace is too cold during winter months. A controlled study showed the impact temperatures could have on work productivity as forty-four participants in the study made more mistakes when working in cold temperatures and decreased productivity rates compared to those operating in warmer conditions. According to Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory scientists, the ideal temperature that contributes to an increase in productivity is twenty-one degrees Celsius. Even one degree higher or lower in temperature unfavourably impacted productivity rates.
Sounds can spark a reaction of stress and anxiety; think about noises that cause off-guarded surprise. That is why noise is a significant source of stress that can impede mental and physical health. Noises such as shouting, phone ringing, and notification tones can cause blood pressure and heart rate to rise. For example, an employee in earshot of one conversation can diminish quality output work rates by sixty-six per cent, according to research published in The British Journal of Psychology. Some employees learn to develop skills that work around the noise levels they face while working, but to grow and implement those skills calls for the extra effort that employees could put towards work productivity if the noises were not there in the first place.
A recent study by UK Staples showed the importance of lighting in the workplace as eighty per cent of office workers voiced the necessity of having good lighting wherever they are working. In addition, the study revealed forty per cent of employees had to work with lighting that was not comfortable in daily conditions. Natural light is easy to come by for workspaces linked to the outdoors, but for those inside most working hours, adding natural light exposure to the indoor office space is vital. The Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell performed a study showing the effects of light exposure, finding that workers seated within ten feet of a window experienced an eighty-four per cent reduction in headaches, blurry vision, and eyestrain.
Fresh air goes a long way when it comes to productivity, and research from the World Green Building Council found that fresh air in the workspace can enhance productivity rates up to eleven per cent. Consider crowded office spaces when thinking about air quality, as a rise in carbon dioxide levels is commonly found in areas with a higher number of humans present. Too much carbon dioxide exposure can dampen decision-making skills and overall cognitive performance.
When altering workspaces to improve productivity, there are other factors to consider, such as an environment’s spirit, positive influence, aesthetics, organisational culture, and even people. When it comes to where the work production occurs, even the smallest of changes can result in big productivity wins.
About Jako Hall
Jako Hall is an experienced mariner and a former naval officer known for his strong work ethic and ability to lead and motivate crews. He pursued Maritime Studies at the University of Technology in Cape Town and has received the highest level of training in Navigation and Seamanship during his years in the Navy. After 13 distinguished years in the Navy, Jako joined the superyacht industry, following his passion for creating unique and exclusive experiences for high-net-worth clients. He’s managed multi-million euro projects that required attention to detail and efficiency and has a proven track record of operating at sea in remote and unsupported areas.