Many things influence efficiency in the office: e-mails that continuously interrupt our work, an all-nighter or discussions about the weather at the coffee machine. But more insidious and quite surprising factors can also affect our performance at work.
Numerous studies have shown the influence of color on psychology and productivity. In the office, the worst color would be white, which would increase the risk of burn-out and encourage boredom. Quite surprising, considering that 8 out of 10 people work in white-walled offices. Red (like orange) would tend to make you feel bad. The ideal: a pastel blue-green color, supposed to be conducive to relaxation and creativity. Today, the trend is more towards multicolored, as at Google, which has brightly colored chairs and accessories in its offices everywhere.
Too cold, too hot. Temperature is a recurring issue in the office. But it also affects performance. According to a 2004 Cornell University study, employees working below 20°C make 44% more errors when typing on the computer. Conversely, a temperature above 30°C reduces performance by 9% according to another 2006 study.
There is one problem though;
Women’s thermal well-being is 2.5°C higher than men’s due to metabolic differences. That could further penalize women in a male-dominated environment!
Even if you don’t notice it, the skyscraper towers tend to swing slightly under the effect of the wind. People working at heights would suffer more nausea, headaches, and anxiety, according to Anthony Darby, professor at the University of Bath (United Kingdom).
And it is not much better on the first floors: where you are exposed to low frequencies below 1 Hz which can cause Sopite syndrome, a mild form of motion sickness characterized by a feeling of significant fatigue, drowsiness, and mood changes. “Regardless of the floor occupied by your office, the barely noticeable and continuous movement of the buildings weakens our psychological and physiological excitement,” explains Anthony Darby on Canadian CBC Radio.
We know little about it, but indoor pollution is often much worse than that observed at the edge of the ring road. And unfortunately, many of us work in closed and poorly ventilated environments, which hinders our performance.
According to a 2016 study, good quality air would improve cognitive test scores by 61% compared to a working environment saturated with CO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
” Breathing better air led to significantly better decision-making performance among our participants, ” says Joseph Allen, the study’s lead author and professor at Harvard School of Public Health. According to his calculations, a good ventilation or the use of air cleaners with True HEPA filters would increase the benefit by $6,500 per employee per year.
Sugar is the brain’s number one fuel: many studies show that too low a glucose level (hypoglycemia) causes troubles concentrating. Also, the feeling of hunger leads us to make bad decisions and makes us feel bad. It has been proven that judges make much more severe verdicts before lunch than after lunch.
The problem is that cracking a chocolate bar at the vending machine won’t help either: according to another 2017 study, a peak of glucose lowers attention levels, especially since we fasted long before.
The solution? Fruits and vegetables: people who consume more than seven servings per day would be more creative and more engaged in their work.