Poor office equipment hampering workplace productivity

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Grenke Leasing

What is the biggest drain on your workforce's productivity? Well, a new survey of office workers by office products firm Fellowes has identified what stops them working as hard as they could.

More than three-quarters said chatty colleagues hit their productivity, while 60 per cent cited tea breaks as their biggest obstacle to working hard. Meanwhile, 49 per cent were distracted because they like snacking, while 30 per cent blamed their colleagues' bad habits for putting them off.

Obviously, many of these issues are difficult for employers to tackle directly - but the poll did highlight quite a few other areas where bosses can act in a tangible, meaningful way.

For instance, 42 per cent said IT problems affect their productivity, while 37 per cent said they find it hard to focus because the office is too hot.

Meanwhile, 25 per cent said they were put off by uncomfortable workstations, and the same proportion said uncomfortable chairs affect their performance at work.

This suggests that by making just a few physical changes to their workspace, such as up-to-date computers and ergonomic furniture, company bosses could boost productivity considerably.

In fact, a quarter of those polled said the setup of their office was bad for their output at work, which means acting on this might make a big difference to a firm's bottom line.

Addressing these grievances could also have much wider benefits for a business. For instance, one in four respondents said they had missed a deadline at work because they couldn't obtain the equipment they needed on time.

In addition, one in five office workers said they do not have access to the equipment they require at least once a week.

Focusing on maintaining a steady and reliable pipeline of the latest resources, perhaps by leasing IT equipment rather than buying it outright, could therefore help colleagues get their jobs done with much less disruption.

Improving the physical office environment could also have an effect on absenteeism rates and the overall health of the workforce. Indeed, one in five workers polled by Fellowes said they ache at the end of the day because of their desks, which suggests that switching to ergonomic and adjustable furniture could eliminate this problem.

Workers are unproductive for two hours a day

According to the Fellowes survey, the UK's status as the world's fifth largest economy is not reflected when it comes to global productivity rankings. In fact, the country is languishing in 15th place.

It's easy to see why the UK fares poorly in the rankings, as 31 per cent of office workers admit they are unproductive for about two hours a day.

When you consider that this adds up to ten hours a week, or an entire working work per month, it's clear that this is a problem that businesses of all sizes must work to address. So what are the solutions?

Shorter working hours

One interesting option put forward by the study is reducing working hours. The UK was outpaced in the productivity league by the likes of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, all developed nations that have a much shorter working week.

The fact that two hours of the day aren't being used productively means people are already working reduced hours, so could formalising this and giving people more flexibility over when and where they work be the way forward?

Grace Marshall, author of How to be Really Productive, is one advocate of this approach, stating: "A four-day work week increases momentum and motivation in the office, as well as giving employees more time to enjoy life outside of the workplace. 

"It is our ability to think well that increases the quality and value of our work, not how many hours we show up at the office. In fact, working longer hours can diminish our productivity as well as our wellbeing."

Lease office equipment

Another possible option for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises on limited budgets, could be to lease new office and IT equipment, without having to go to the expense of purchasing it outright.

Instead of committing to an investment and tying up funds in technology that could quickly become outdated, you can sign up for a simple, flexible and bespoke financing solution that meets your needs and circumstances.

Among the items you can lease are desktop PCs and laptops, office furniture and telecoms hardware. Adopting this approach could therefore be a great way of addressing the grievances of office workers who feel their existing equipment is inadequate and that their physical workspace could be improved.

Darryl Brunt, UK sales and marketing director at Fellowes, commented: "It’s clear that our workplace has a huge effect on our productivity and our report shows a real need for businesses to take heed. 

"Making small changes to employee’s workstation comfort can reap rewards for their wellbeing and their working life."

While the idea of revamping your work premises might seem alarming due to the potential costs involved, leasing could offer a good way of overhauling the office without breaking the bank.