How To Design Your Office to Be More Productive

Where you work is just as important as what you do. Office designs have come a long way since the early 20th century and are still changing year to year. What makes for a productive office environment? There are plenty of details, both big and small, that can contribute to office productivity or create a distracting environment. From the lighting to the desk layout to the color of the walls, the environment you’re in is important for your success at work.

Open office space designs have received a recent uptick in popularity. The open design is thought to enable users to be more collaborative. It is also thought that open spaces prevent employees from slacking off due to the visual accountability they are held to. However, for some, open office spaces are seen as distracting and chaotic. There are plenty of companies out there who stick to the cubicle set-up or closed door offices and that method works for them. While it has been proven that office design affects employee productivity, the design of the space itself isn’t actually as important as the details within the design. There are certain aspects of the office environment higher ups should be paying attention to if they want to improve productivity.

Design Details That Influence Office Productivity

1. Lighting

Employees spend 8-10 hours a day in their office environment, so it is crucial that the office is adequately lit. Working in a well-lit area reduces eye strain, headaches, fatigue, and irritability. In a recent study, it was proven that productivity increases as much as 16% when employees are placed in a well-lit workspace.

2. Ventilation

Just like lighting, ventilation is another crucial detail to consider when designing a productive workspace. OSHA estimates that employers lose a total of $15 billion annually “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave” that is associated with low air quality. Installing air filters and incorporating fresh air will improve productivity, lower absences, and save the company money in the long run.

3. Color

Color is a huge part of office design and picking the right colors to incorporate can effect productivity levels. Blue is a color proven to increase productivity. Orange is another color that promotes energy, so it is often used on office walls. If blue and orange are not colors you prefer, a study from the University of Massachusetts shows that incorporating any color in office design promotes creativity and improves morale.

4. Office Furniture

Of course, it is important that the desks and chairs in your office look nice and appear professional. However, it is more important that your employee’s desk spaces fit their bodies correctly. There are a few quick checks you can do to make sure a desk space is ergonomic including:

  • Eyes are two to three feet from the computer screen.
  • The top of the monitor is at eye-level or slightly below it.
  • Feet are resting on the floor or a footrest.
  • A chair that can be adjusted for height and recline to relieve spinal pressure.

5. Temperature

It is a common misconception that a colder office is a more productive environment. Most offices are kept around 66 degrees for this reason. In all actuality, a warmer office environment can lead to increased productivity. A study from Cornell linked “warm offices to fewer typing errors and higher productivity”. The study also determined that an ideal office temperature is between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

These five design details are a great place to start for those looking to make their office spaces more productive. Regardless of where you work, consider lighting, air quality, your desk area, and how you’re physically feeling. If you are going through a phase of being less productive than normal a slight switch up may help.

Stressful Work Environment? 10 Fast & Easy Ways To Relieve Stress

Regardless of how much you love your job, it can be stressful at times. According to a survey from Everest College, 83% of workers in the US are stressed at work. There are many reasons that an employee can be stressed. For some, it is an unhealthy work environment. For others, stress at work can be a result of a lack of job security, a poor work/life balance, or feeling underpaid.

In the IT sector, quickly approaching deadlines or a high influx of clientele contribute to a stressful work environment. Data malfunctions, system crashes and miscommunication between team members are additional factors that can contribute to feeling stressed on the job. Since working in a stressful environment is unavoidable at times, it is important to know quick ways to relieve stress in the workplace. Below, we’ve outlined 10 fast and easy ways to relieve stress when you find yourself stressing out at work.

10 Ways to Relieve Stress at Work

  1. Build Positive Relationships with Co-Worker

    Co-workers who can commiserate with you on common stressors are blessings in disguise. Having friends in the office who you can vent to in confidence is a huge stress reliever. When you talk about stressors, you contextualize them and can often resolve the issues altogether. If you’re feeling stressed at work, find a friend and confidante then sit down and talk about what’s bothering you.

  2. Exercise

    Exercise has been proven time and time again to relieve stress. You don’t have to do a full-blown workout to incorporate exercise into your workday. Taking a short walk during lunch or a quick walk around the building when you’ve got 10 minutes can make all the difference. The point is that getting outside and getting your heart rate up hugely benefit stress relief. If you don’t have time to get away from your desk consider requesting a standing desk. An act as simple as standing when you’re used to sitting all day can hugely benefit the receptors in your brain that manage stress.

  3. Improve Your Diet

    Stress eating is real. While it may feel good to binge eat greasy pizza when you’re feeling down, it’s not helping you manage your stress. In fact, a healthy diet is going to benefit your stress levels much more than an unhealthy diet will. By eating foods high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar, you’re more likely to feel lethargic and less likely to tackle difficult tasks. When you choose to eat complex carbs, high fiber fruits, and superfoods like kale and dark chocolate, you’re helping your body and powering your brain. A healthy diet will keep you from worrying about your weight on top of your job and will help keep you focused on the tasks ahead. In the end, you’ll be benefiting your body and your workload.

  4. Start Your Day Off in a Positive Way

    We’ve all heard the saying, “someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed” and while it’s an expression, it rings true. A huge factor that determines your stress levels is how you start your day. When you start your day late and find yourself rushing, you’re more likely to be stressed. Some ways to ensure you start your day off right include preparing your breakfast and lunch the night before, picking out your work attire in the evening, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep without that time cutting into your morning.

  5. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe

    Breathing is a great way to relieve stress and calm yourself down. By practicing deep breathing, you’re sending your brain a message that says, “calm down and relax”. Not only does deep breathing reduce stress, but it also relieves tension. There are a few different deep breathing techniques that can help with stress reductions. A study recently came out of the University of Michigan explains the different techniques, how to do them, and their benefits.

  6. Cut Down on Interruptions

    Interruptions surround us within the work environment. From meetings and email threads to extended lunch breaks and social media, there are distractions everywhere. While some interruptions are necessary, most of them are not and are contributing to your stress. Try cutting down on interruptions by setting aside specific times for meetings, addressing your inbox at a certain time, and limiting your social media usage.

  7. Tackle One Thing at a Time

    Prioritizing your day is another great way to eliminate stress. Making a to-do list of tasks to work through can help to put your day in a manageable perspective. By completing one task at a time, you will be able to focus entirely on said task. This will keep you from having to revisit it throughout the day. A helpful tip is to make an outline of how your ideal workday would pan out and then try to stick to that outline.

  8. Quit Self-Imposing Stress

    A lot of work-related stress is self-imposed. By setting unreasonable deadlines for yourself or avoiding certain items on your to-do list because they are hard to tackle, you’re creating stress that can easily be avoided. An easy way to avoid self-imposed stress is to apply other methods of stress management on this list to your work life.

  9. Be Comfortable

    Being uncomfortable can also contribute to stress in the workplace. Wearing clothes you feel uncomfortable in to uphold an image can contribute to your stress. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair can also cause stress in the workplace. Even something as minor as dealing with distracting office noise can make it hard to focus. Speaking up about office discomforts can benefit your day-to-day work life tremendously and cut down on stress.

  10. Kick Bad Habits

    Kicking bad habits that cause you to stress is a great way to reduce your stress at work and at home, too! Whether your bad habit is checking social media too often or finding yourself overwhelmed with topics unrelated to work while at the office, eliminating those causes can have great effects. BlockSite is a great Chrome extension that can help you cut back on visiting websites not related to your job and can help eliminate your stress in the workplace.

While stress in the workplace can’t be completely avoided, it can be managed. The number one step to managing your work-related stress is to identify the causes. Once you’ve discovered what is causing your stress, start taking steps to eliminate those causes. Eventually, your work-related stress will disappear and your life at work will improve drastically. If you feel that these tips will not help you with your stress, you may consider a new career path. Not all people are cut out for certain jobs and that is completely fine. In the end, personal wellbeing and mental health should be your highest priorities.

At Number 8, we promote a healthy and stress-free work environment. If you are an IT professional who is in search of a job, contact us today. You can give us a call at 502-890-7665 or check out our contact page!

Why Mistakes are an Important Part of the Creative Process Even in Tech

Those in the Information Technology field know that software development doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s collaborative and often times risks need to be taken in order to achieve any level of innovation. With risks come mistakes and projects that don’t always pan out as planned.

However, IT teams that follow the agile methodology tend to be familiar with the ideology that mistakes are an important part of the creative process. The agile way of developing tech is adaptive in that it is designed around embracing feedback and learning opportunities.

As Albert Einstein once said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Here’s why you shouldn’t let the fear of making a mistake keep you or your team in your comfort zone:

Mistakes let us know what doesn’t work and paves the path for what could.  

When it comes to developing something new or going into uncharted territory, mistakes are bound to happen. But with experimentation comes discovering a new way of doing something and that is almost always value added. By pivoting and testing new ideas, one is better able to evaluate and refine a product or idea and then learn from it. 

It’s not the mistake that defines an employee, but how they rebound from it.

If mistakes are inevitable, a team should know how to handle them. Take the stigma out of it, and you’ll find that enabling a team to make mistakes means also giving them the opportunity to problem solve effectively. Employees who take accountability for their mistakes and are able to learn from them are a valuable asset to any company. Instead of creating a culture of fear where one tends to get defensive if a mistake is made, establish one where everyone feels empowered enough to innovate and safeguard for the future.

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!

Meetings At Work – 4 Reasons Why They Are Useful

When it comes to meetings at work, they can either be really informative or drag on past the point of productivity. For those in the IT world who have embraced the Agile methodology, meetings are a daily occurrence called “scrums.” Development teams lead these gatherings to regroup and give status reports concerning their specific projects. Additionally, even when working with remote workers, it can prove beneficial to touch base with them face to face via a video conference, as things can be misconstrued in other formats like email and chat. 

No matter what industry you’re in though, meetings are an essential part of business. In fact, if done right, they can propel a company toward success. 

Just in case you’re not sold, here are 4 reasons why meetings are useful in the workplace: 

The Power of Brainstorming 

Sometimes it takes meeting with your team to get a new perspective on a project or problem. Collaborating collectively allows for new ideas to be shared in a safe and confidential space. Innovation is best nurtured when everyone feels they are heard and have been given the opportunity to contribute.  

Providing Information 

Meetings are perhaps most often used for providing information and dispersing tasks. If structured properly, they don’t have to be the drudge most employees have come to know and fear. These kinds of meetings work best if there is a clear agenda and a leader who is not afraid to interrupt and push forward. To some extent, everyone should be given the opportunity to speak. This is a great time to discuss priorities, air grievances, and gather help from those less bogged down with assignments. Providing information in a meeting is constructive in that everyone is on the same page at the same time.

Strategic Planning 

Usually a company participates in annual strategic planning to set the course and pace for the upcoming year. Planning strategically can be helpful in setting goals and motivating your team to seek action based results. Doing so can also ensure everyone is kept accountable throughout the year. Additionally, meeting within this context gives leadership the opportunity to recognize potential in members who may be interested in taking on more responsibility or growing their role within the business. 

Re-centering

Without meeting from time to time, a company’s policies have a way of falling through the cracks. Convening from time to time just to give everyone feedback and have a general review of the proper procedures can be immensely helpful in keeping a growing business on track. Not to mention it helps to rustle everyone up and out of their respective nooks and show some appreciation for a job well done. 

At Number8, our philosophy is to empower our clients to produce better software, faster. We are experts in augmenting scrum teams with senior consultants that can help increase team velocity immediately. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page.

8 Traits of a Skilled Project Manager

A project manager’s job entails moving a project from conception to completion all the while ensuring a client’s needs and wants are being met and that the team is reaching it’s deadlines. This requires a lot of planning and executing. Additionally, finding the right person for the job can be quite the task as the role of project management requires a specific and well sought after skill set. 

Whether you’re searching for a good candidate to fulfill a project management position or looking to become a skilled project manager yourself, here are some important traits to hone in on. 

8 Characteristics of a Skilled Project Manager

1. Organization

In order to set realistic timelines and stay within budget for each and every project, a project manager needs to be a well oiled and organized machine. Seeing a project through from beginning to end in an organized and proficient way often entails being able to utilize the right tools to set goals and milestones, as well as schedule meetings and assign tasks. 

2. Communication

As with any role, communication is important. However, for a project manager, excellent communication skills are paramount. This is because their role acts as an information pipeline for both the client and company as a project progresses. A project manager must be able to manage expectations both within her team as well as when consulting with a client. Communicating in an honest and respectful way leaves no room for misinterpretation and fosters good working relationships. 

3. Leadership

A good project manager is also a good leader; someone who can managing people effectively. Keeping up with your team’s level of productivity on a current project as well as being clear about what should be prioritized and the best way to manage time takes real leadership. Additionally, a successful leader can comfortably delegate tasks, track their team’s progress, hold them accountable, and even share credit for a job well done.   

4. Vision

As a project manager, one must be able to see and account for an infinite amount of possibilities. Planning ahead means accounting for potential pitfalls and necessary revisions. This way,  if and when they happen, the project does not fall behind schedule. Additionally, by having enough foresight, a project manager is able to anticipate and prevent mistakes before they can halt a project. 

5. Drive

In order for any given project to be successful, it’s essential that the project manager is passionate about it’s development. One who lacks drive will not be able to motivate their team properly to meet deadlines and reach new levels of innovation. By having a stake in the company, a skilled project manager is likely invested in the outcome of their projects and more likely to prosper because of it. Additionally, those who enjoy helping others naturally have a drive and passion for their work because they want to see it do well. 

6. Problem Solving

Setbacks are inevitable no matter the project. A skilled project manager is able to quickly problem solve an issue before it has a domino like effect and causes the whole project to lag. Good problem solvers are creative and not afraid to take action. 

7. Composure

When things don’t go as planned or a project is right up against a deadline, an experienced project manager is able to keep their cool under pressure. This trait is vital in making sure projects reach completion. Staying composed when dealing with a difficult situation, whether with a client or a glitch in development, allows for things to get back on track quickly.   

8. Team Building

Part of a project manager’s job is to oversee his or her team during a project. In order to inspire coworkers to do their best work, a project manager needs to be an effective team builder. Team building often entails showing compassion when needed and cultivating an environment where everyone feels they can approach you and ask questions. When your team is comfortable asking questions as they work on an assignment, they’re less likely to make mistakes that will need to be corrected down the road. Encouraging this kind of participation and offering helpful as well as positive feedback streamlines projects. 

At Number8, we help project managers connect with highly trained and efficient IT support to help reach company goals. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page!