Trips to the Water Cooler Could Increase Productivity

A recent survey from Staples Advantage, a division of Staples, Inc., indicates that more than 70 percent of both office workers and managers believe they’re now more productive than they were five years ago. Workers claim a key to staying productive is maintaining their energy levels.

Consistent exercise can help employees maintain their energy and boost workplace productivity at the same time. According to the American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence, employees who spent 2.5 hours a week in physical activity were more satisfied with their work. They reported increases in workload ability and less sick time than non-physically active employees. Optimum benefits were achieved by people who exercised four hours or more in a week.

Finding the time to exercise that length of time often proves challenging but at the very least workers should step away from desks for a brief periods of time. Perhaps even a short stroll to the water cooler can result in increased productivity. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Staples’ survey respondents felt that taking such breaks helped them become more productive.

FitYourSpace, a company specializing in creating healthier and more productive workplaces, concurs. The company advises that workers should never stay seated for longer than 30 minutes without taking a short break. They suggest trying out the Pomodoro Technique, which calls for focusing intently on one task for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break.

To maximize health and productivity benefits during those five minutes it is crucial workers activate their muscles and get their blood flowing faster. Doing so tells the brain that it’s time to energize and focus so when workers return to their desk they’re ready to concentrate again. If that stroll to the water cooler fails to get blood circulating, consider walking around the building or trekking up and down a few flights of stairs during those breaks.

Another way to increase productivity is having workers walk over to a kitchen well-stocked with coffee and snacks, according to the Staples’ survey. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they enjoyed being offered snacks, yet only 43 percent of offices provided them. An added bonus to laying out snacks and coffee is that it can minimize time employees leave the office, which can hinder productivity.

In another study, Staples discovered that more than 85 million people routinely left their offices to obtain “specialty” coffees. Those short trips to grab a latte from the local barista add up: respondents said each trip took between 20 and 40 minutes. This is equal to more than two billion minutes each day or 10.6 billion hours of lost productivity per year.

Ideally, employees should build in specific times for physical activity but when that’s not possible, just taking short breaks and moving around the office can lead to an increase in health benefits and productivity. Throw in a cup of java and a granola bar and you might just have a winning combination for improved workplace production!






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