10 essentials for increasing productivity at work

The straight forward guide to improving your productivity today.

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Now that you’ve secured your Tribes office, the next step is decorating. Below, we have created a list of our top office essentials from posture correctors and ping pong tables to general advice surrounding sleep, hydration and more.

1. Standing Desk

The FlexiSpot is becoming a commonplace item in new offices, and for good reason. Wide enough for multiple monitors, there is more than enough space for all your messy desk paraphernalia. Boasting a lifting power of over 120kgs, it’s the perfect addition for those who prefer to break up their day with a standing session. We have these in our own offices, so we can attest to their sturdiness, quick response and surprising silent movement.

2. Music

Another inexpensive and simple way to increase productivity is to listen to music. It's not as simple as sticking on your favourite songs, although you should for sure do that from time to time if you reach a low point in the day. There is a wide range of music people gravitate towards in attempts to increase productivity not just in work but also at the gym or while exercising. Let's start with Drum and Bass. Given the high BPM count, it's more than suitable for high word counts and tight deadlines. Classical music or relaxing instrumentals are often used for more inspirational or creative pieces of work. Avoiding vocal based music or sing-along songs is advised for the same reason, listening to your favourite tracks back to back isn't ideal - as it can sometimes create more distraction and thus the adverse effect. Experiment with it, and I'm convinced you'll soon find a playlist or style that suits your specific field! And yes, playlists. Otherwise, you'll waste the entire day picking songs instead of working.

3. Read daily and learn often!

Yes it's vague. Read what? What should I learn? Where do I find the time? No one said it's going to be easy, but just taking 30 minutes a day will amass to a huge amount of time you have invested in yourself for yourself.

Let's start with reading. Reading is a great way to increase your memory, expand your vocabulary, and ultimately makes you incrementally smarter and faster at processing. Another added benefit of reading is its surprising ability to reduce stress. If you are more relaxed and less tense, you know you will have a more productive and better day at work, without a doubt. A major way of initiating some personal growth, is to expand your skill set and understanding of different processes, concepts, software and subjects. Focusing especially on new fields you may want to move into will more than motivate you, as seeing yourself become more skilled and competent due to your own hard work is beyond rewarding. Learning keyboard shortcuts isn't exactly fun or exciting. But it is free, quick and with practice ends up saving you an incredible amount of time. There are some great infographics which can be used as cheat sheets to save you even more time. There are even cheat sheets and infographics per programme, so make a quick search for “Excel shortcuts” or “Adobe Illustrator cheat sheet” and start saving time today!

4. Posture

Why is posture so important for productivity?

Well workers are now facing a work life up until the ages of 60-70 meaning bad habits created now may come back to haunt us sooner than we think. Creating a proper routine when it comes to back support is essential to longevity and the avoidance of unnecceary pain in the future. Back problems are one of the most common issues faced by workers over 40 and tends to impact those working across manual labour, services and hospitality more than any other professions.

Our advice: Firstly, we would argue that you use sport, exercise, and meditation to explore the sensitive, tense, strained or overworked areas of your body. Yoga, Pilates, swimming and various other activities can not only help you spot problems earlier but ensure you are stretching and developing under used muscles which may be constrained in the first place.
Secondly, we argue that posture correctors and posture correcting devices are becoming more essential than that morning coffee. With increasing phone use, our necks are also prone to aches pains and stiffness.

So what's the solution?

One from Wired now, and this device is touted as the “most effective way to keep your back straight”. A simply rectangular device placed on your back that vibrates when you start edging into a bad posture. Many people complain with conventional posture correctors, highlighting the uncomfortable brace and indiscreet design. The Upright GO on the other hand works with an app and can easily be concealed making it one of the most modern posture correctors on offer.
If you’d rather keep your money then stick to the exercises to develop a natural desire to sit correctly and appropriately.

5. Blue screen

Giving your eyes a break from screen use is a major step towards increasing your health and productivity. Blue screen cause a whole host of problems. Lumeseyewear highlights reduced melatonin production, disruption of the circadian rhythm and ultimately headaches as the 3 main negative health side effects. It’s no wonder burnout is synonymous with increased computer use, and thus a serious contributor to decreased productivity. Below is some solutions to blue screen fatigue with some top picks for ensuring you can make the most of your screen use in a healthy way.

Firstly start with adjusting your screen settings. Much like most smartphones these days, both Apple and Windows offer tools to reduce the amount of blue light that radiates from your monitor or laptop. Start by adjusting these, making sure they suit your schedule.
Secondly, invest in quality glasses, even if your vision is 20/20. Many glasses come with additional extras when selecting your lens. Our pick has to be Polette for their modern designs and affordability. Moreover, Polette allows customers to get prescription free glasses, meaning you can get glasses solely for combating tired eyes resulting from the blue screen.

Thirdly, we encourage all our members to not spend their breaks staring into their phones. A break from work should be seen as an all-round break from monitors, displays and electronics. For sure check your phone and respond to important business, but then put the phone away and take a walk if your location caters to it. Here at Tribes we have some incredible coworking spaces which make for a great hangout spot or meeting place away from the office.

Lastly, if you are still facing issues with your blue screen we’ve listed a few more tips and tricks to make sure you can save yourself from further damage to your eyes.

  • Purchase a blue light filter for devices
  • Use notebooks, post-it notes and physically write as often as possible
  • Reduce glare on your screen to avoid continuous squinting and all round eye strain
  • Use meal planning to consciously mitigate the effects of too much screen use.
  • Adjust bulbs, avoid florescence, and work outside where possible.
  • Try out eye drops if you experience dry eyes

6. Lighting

Key to any office environment, restaurant, film or concert. Both natural and supplemental. Much like adequate access to fresh air or nutritious food, it can honestly make or break a good day at the office. As darker nights approach, we all need to be aware of the amount of vitamin D we are missing out on. Luckily we have a multitude of options to help fulfil this winter deficit.

What is vitamin D, and why is it so important?

Put in the simplest terms, vitamin D is produced when we are exposed to the sun. It’s essential for protecting your immune system, maintaining a healthy heart and even for protecting our teeth and bones due to the role it plays in absorbing calcium.

So what do we suggest?

There are various approaches to ensure a healthy vitamin intake. Firstly you can take extra supplements to boost your vitamin D levels. This is a generally inexpensive solution and very easy to integrate into your routine. The second option and the most office suited approach to ensuring healthy levels of vitamin D is investing in a light to help increase your vitamin D levels. Although more of a pricey response, this can really improve your vitamin D intake in a non-invasive way without the need for reoccurring vitamins.

7. Hydration

Across the internet there is several lists of must-have items for the office or office essentials which showcase designer water bottles, reusable cups and a whole host of other water carrying devices. The surprising thing is the impracticality of much of the items being highlighted. No reasonably minded person wants to spend 50+ euros on a water bottle, nor do they need electronically charged trappings of luxury for such a simple yet important aspect of staying hydrated. Our advice and suggested product is simple and cheap.

It's called a cup. No fancy timers, no counters or alarm bells. Just a cup. You don't spend a week's wage on something so primitive, and it forces you to get up out of your chair to refill. It gives your eyes a break from the screen and gets you moving, even if only slightly. The great thing about Tribes locations is the unique Tribal water we offer in each coworking space. This is free and comes with herbs, spices and other nutritious extras to give you that extra boost throughout your working day.
You can try out our coworking for just €15 or take a free inspiring tour if you want to learn more about our inspiring work solutions.

8. Timer

Today, more than ever, distractions have the potential to upset our working flow. From phone calls, to social media – we are bombarded with opportunities to drop work and commitments 5 minutes at a time. Creating a sustainable routine is just one part of being more productive. Our advice? Get yourself a timer. On first read, it can seem like an old-fashioned approach to a very simple problem, but you would be surprised at how much you can actually achieve by focusing your time and attention.

Start small and build this up incrementally. Be strict with yourself to achieve the greatest results and more importantly be strict regarding potential distractions or distractors in your midst. That 4th smoke break can wait, so too can that 3rd coffee after midday. This sounds like one of the most boring and uninteresting pieces of advice, but ultimately it's rewarding and establishes a sense of self-discipline and willpower otherwise lost to technology and notifications. As our attention spans lower, we need to combat this.

So what’s the solution?

As previously mentioned, a timer is a great start to focus your mind on specific tasks. There is a wide range of options from inexpensive wristwatches to more modern responses in the form of magnetic LED timers. Shop around and find the best format that fits you and your space. Just remember, don’t settle for the timer on your phone. It’s too easy a step from innocently checking the time to ending up running it down with a few too many scrolls.

9. A Ping-Pong Table? Really?

YES! It's a known fact, happier workers work harder. And a bit of physical exercise certainly helps increase productivity. Don't believe us? Check out this Forbes article on the very subject! So our advice to you is to orientate your office setup around what will make your workers the happiest. There has been some weird and wonderful responses to this around the world, from office pets to casual Friday or even weekly meditation and yoga sessions in the office. Get creative and start trying to diversify your team's week to now only increase productivity, but to help you retain valuable staff.
A ping pong table may be the best way to get your employees active. Perfect for short breaks and a welcome change to 8 hours of blue screen. Moreover, by creating a little tournament you can introduce a little friendly competitiveness between staff.

10. Sleep

In today's society, we can fall victim to this fantastical notion that we can buy our way out of ineffectiveness. Feeling unfit? Buying an expensive treadmill isn't always the solution when you can jog for free. The proof isn’t always in the purchase and there are free ways to make progress and track results while increasing productivity without the need for expensive unnecessary ‘innovative’ technology. Sleep is a huge one and something which can be overlooked. If you wake up earlier, you get more done. If you sleep earlier, you have more energy. With more energy, you are less prone to distractions and so on. Sleep is a huge issue for workers around the world, and there is no naivety here regarding the increasing struggle people have trying to fall asleep.

Why do people find it so hard to get to sleep at night?

Insomnia is arguably the worst it can get for those struggling to sleep. Causes include:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • poor sleep habits
  • circadian rhythm disorders (such as jet lag),
  • and taking certain medications.

What can you do about it?

A lot of people have been there. It’s 3am, and you are hitting google for some solutions on how to get to sleep. Your mind just won’t switch off. For some they reach the point of no return, where it has become so late, they question if staying awake is more worth it than potentially falling asleep and missing your alarms completely.

If you read over our previous points, you’ll recognize various ways you can start to make a difference to your sleep. From taking care of your eyes, drinking more water and including more exercise into your day, you’ll already be on your way to a better sleep. Compare that to those of us who stare into a computer screen for 8 hours a day with little to no movement. Beyond these three simple steps, another thing you can do to improve the quality of your sleep is to meditate. Highly effective and increasingly popular, meditation is now becoming the answer to bad sleep.

Reducing phone use before bed can also massively improve your sleep due to the impact this has on the brain. Same goes for TV, streaming and any type of screen use before sleeping.

Drinking camomile tea before bed helps some people get that perfect rest, whereas others look to lavender and other fragrances to help regulate their sleeping pattern. Others read a chapter of a book and end up asleep before turning the second page. Whatever way best suits you, find a routine and prioritize it over anything else. Trying to solve every problem which is thrown your way at 4am is no alternative. And overwhelming problems are of course better dealt with following much-needed rest and an early start. Recognize your limitations and prioritize yourself on these moments to give yourself the best possible chance of moving forward.

If you require further advice regarding sleep we highly recommend reading this article by headspace or the TIME Guide to Sleep which has some incredibly detailed articles and answers most frequently asked questions. For those with more serious conditions or situational based sleeping problems, always seek professional guidance from your doctor or a professional and be sure to fall back on support from your friends, family or peers.

A short recap of our 10 important items for increasing productivity.

  1. Mix up your day by using a standing desk.
  2. Listen to music to help you concentrate and encourage yourself to focus.
  3. Read daily and learn often to expand skills and save time
  4. Posture corrector
  5. Avoid blue light burnout by using computer glasses, blue screen filers and taking breaks.
  6. Adequate lighting and supplementing your vitamin D deficit.
  7. A timer for time management and combatting our increasingly low attention span.
  8. Staying hydrated throughout the day with a normal water bottle, cup or simple glass.
  9. A ping pong table or something that encourages short breaks and increased movement.
  10. High-quality sleep and a suitable routine to give yourself the best chance of success.

Final thoughts on productivity.

We would like to remind everyone from industry to industry that productivity isn’t everything, nor should it be. Working effectively and efficiently is of course important, and we all wish to accomplish as much as we can. But remind yourself you are only one person and there is a limit to how much you can do. Unhealthy KPIs, unrealistic targets and the rise of incredibly invasive employee tracking systems tends to do more harm than good, to not just our productivity levels but also to the mental health of employees. A successful company will work within its limits. Successful management will encourage employees to achieve, grow and succeed through positivity, purposeful strategy and investment. So before you start changing your entire diet, personality and bank balance to make yourself into a superhuman regimented worker, remind yourself of the clear and understandable limits. By all means chase growth, combat low attention spans and get the most out of your day, but never let this impact you or your fellow workers mental health or quality of life. As previously mentioned, happy workers are the most productive of all, so maybe this should be your starting point for employees and employers alike.

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