Focus, focus: Tips for boosting employee productivity

Workers just want to work, but managers don’t see what’s hindering employees from doing their best.

According to a global Oxford Economics study on the effects of open workplaces on employees, the ability to focus without interruptions is a top priority for employees when it comes to office design; access to amenities like free food is far less important.

Employees are expected to be connected to the office all the time--but only 40 percent say the devices they use at home integrate seamlessly with their work tools.

The report also revealed that constant connectivity breeds compulsive behavior--and could lead to burnout. More than one-third of employees say they use their tech devices primarily out of habit or compulsion, fear of missing out, or social pressure.

Unfortunately, managers don't see the problems. The study says that nearly two-thirds of executives say employees are equipped with the tools they need to deal with distractions at work. However, less than half of employees agree.

"Noise and distraction have a big impact on productivity," says Edward Cone, Deputy Director of Thought Leadership and Technology Practice Lead at Oxford Economics. "These are issues that companies can address--but first they need to acknowledge the problem."

Recommendations for employers

The report lists the following recommendations for employers, to help their employees work more productively, which is something the report says workers want to do:

* Begin a dialogue with employees about what is working and what needs to change regarding office design, working remotely, and technology use;

* Ensure employees have the tools and devices needed to work from anywhere;

* Give employees the quiet time, spaces, and tools required to conduct focused work;

* Encourage everyone to disconnect after hours, to find a balance between work and life.

Since employee satisfaction and productivity contribute directly to an organization's financial success, this research concludes that a well-designed office space, integrated technology, and better work/life balance are well worth the effort.