9 Workplace Hacks to Increase Productivity and Happiness (but Most Bosses Don't Think of Them)

Since people, culture, and productivity in the workplace are the little planets that revolve around my professional universe, I subscribe to and receive a ton of information, research, and product offers from companies that know what they're talking about.

One of those companies is Sydney-based Redii--an employee recognition and reward software firm. Redii has put together an e-mail series of daily tips--from science and studies to real life examples--that help companies cultivate a greater workplace.

I've compiled a digest of their best stuff so far. Stay tuned for more Redii office hacks in the future.

Lighting Matters

Psychologist Ron Friedman, in his book The Best Place to Work, says that the presence of ample daylight and windows have a positive impact on people's well-being. In fact, having a view of the outdoors has been shown to promote performance in the workplace. Employees who sit near a window are better at staying on task, show greater interest in their work and represent more loyalty to their company. According to HOK, a global design, architecture and engineering firm, better workplace lighting (both natural daylight and artificial light) has been linked to a 15 percent reduction in absenteeism in office environments. Other studies have reported productivity increases ranging from 2.8 to 20 percent attributed to optimum lighting levels.

Bring Your Pet to Work

According to The Balance, allowing pets in the office can boost a customer's perception of the business. Most customers have a positive reaction when they are offered a chance to interact with an employee's pet, and it can help them to relax and enjoy their visit to the business. Having pets in the office also tends to soften the company's image and makes a business seem more progressive and forward thinking.

Listen to White Noise

Psychologist Ron Friedman cites studies revealing that sound can influence our performance in surprisingly powerful ways. Leaving the office not an option? A pair of headphones can do the trick. Websites like Coffitivity.com re-create the low hum of a cafe, cutting down on lost wages and lost productivity, which research suggests can provide a creative boost, while Simplynoise.com offers the constant swish of white noise to mask distractions when your work requires deep concentration.

Start an Office Fitness Program

One cost-benefit analysis of corporate gyms found they save $1.15 to $5.52 per dollar spent, according to research cited in Fit Over 40 for Dummies by Betsy Nagelsen McCormack and Mike Yorkey. Companies that instituted fitness programs experienced decreased absenteeism, lower turnover rates and reduced usage of sick leave, which saved money and increased productivity. And according to Rise, a Vancouver-based, HR technology company, several well-known companies are using FitBit's wrist tracker technology for wellness initiatives that inspire competition and reward their most active employees. While dishing out $150 for a wristband for every employee may not be feasible for most companies, the main takeaway from using FitBit is to encourage small, fun contests with small, fun rewards

Spread Knowledge Inside Bathroom Stalls

Inside Google bathrooms, you'll find weekly updated flyers at the back of stall doors with tips ranging from proper coding/testing practices to health tips. Different Googlers every week volunteer to write the publications, and more Googlers volunteer to distribute them in their own buildings. A quick read in the bathroom is a great way to learn snippets of knowledge. Seeing the same tips five days in a row also helps memory reenforcement.

Allow Employees Flexibility

According to the 2010 Workplace Flexibility in the U.S report, flexible work--allowing employees to work when, how and where they choose--boosts employee engagement. In fact, 60 percent of employees with high access to flexibility are very satisfied with their jobs, compared with 44 percent of those with moderate access to flexibility and only 22 percent of those with low access to flexibility.

Give Employees a Sense of Belonging

Studies are saying that what employees really want is the sense of belonging that connects them to something bigger and gives their work meaning and purpose. Leaders can tap into that intrinsic motivation by sharing information, discussing strategy and the future. Take HubSpot for example: They have elevated transparency to another level by using its internal wiki to openly publish sensitive information such as financials, board meeting decks, strategic discussions and much more. This idea builds trust and loyalty because employees are allowed to see who their company and its leaders truly are. They feel like they belong in the family.

Extend Goals to Include Work, Family, and Personal Life

A family business with over 25 years in the property and construction industry, Australia's Cobild has an incredible culture. Coblid believes that there are three aspects to a person's life--work life, family life, and personal life. At the beginning of every year the team is encouraged to plan out the year aligned with what they would like to achieve for the three areas of their life. The management then create an action plan and work together to hit those targets. In 2016, Cobild was one of 50 Best Places to Work for companies under 100 employees.

Implement Nap Time (Yes, I'm Serious)

Psychologist Ron Friedman, in The Best Place to Work, says 20-30 minute naps have been proven to boost productivity, increase alertness, quicken motor reflexes, raise accuracy, improve decision-making, enhance creativity, and bolster memory. Yahoo! and Time Warner outsource their napping to local spas that allow employees to recharge in private rooms, complete with aromatherapy and a selection of nature soundtracks. Zappos, Ben & Jerry's, even Nike designate in-office "quiet rooms" for employees to sleep or meditate.

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