5 Factors that Decrease Productivity in the Office and What to do About It

5 Factors that Decrease Productivity in the Office and What to do About It

|Nov 9, 2020

Whether you are working from your home or office, distractions and loud noises can reduce productivity and make it difficult to focus. Here are some of the factors that can lower productivity in office environments and ways to deal with these factors.

1. Bad Office Ergonomics

Poor office ergonomics is the first factor affecting productivity which can result in musculoskeletal disorders, migraines, headaches, and back injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders are debilitating conditions that affect your nerves, tendons, and muscles. The most common musculoskeletal disorder is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

It is a condition in which a nerve in the wrist is restricted, causing painful and unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms include sharp pain, tingling, and numbness. Furthermore, CTS can lead to partial paralysis in extreme cases.

Tendonitis is another musculoskeletal disorder that happens due to the wrong posture. It is the inflammation of tendons.

Proper office ergonomics, on the other hand, can help you work comfortably at work. It includes right desk posture, sufficient spacing of equipment, and right chair ergonomic chair height and posture.

Here is how you can make your workstation comfortable.

Photo of Bad Office Ergonomics

1.1. Screen

Your screen should be at an arm’s length away from you. The top of the monitor should be at your eye level. It should be directly behind your keyboard. If you use bifocals, lower the screen an extra one to two inches so that you can view it comfortably. The monitor arm is also a choice to help you adjust to the suitable height as well.

In time, proper office ergonomics will help boost your productivity because you won’t be straining and you will be comfortable.

Photo of Screen and desk

1.2. Desk

What affects productivity? We won’t miss the working desk. There should be clearance for your feet, thighs, and knees under your working desk. If your working desk is too low and you can't adjust it, put strong blocks or boards under the legs of the desk. And raise your chair if your working desk is too high and you can't adjust it. If you want, you can also use a footrest to support your feet. Lastly, remember not to store items under your working desk.

1.3. Footrest

If the height of your chair is very high and you are not able to rest your feet flat on the ground, you should use a chair with footrests. If you don’t have a footrest, you can use a stack of books or a small stool instead.

1.4. Keyboard and mouse

Keep your mouse near the keyboard and within your easy reach. And while typing, place your hands below the elbow level, your upper arms near your body, and your wrists straight. To decrease the extended use of your mouse, use keyboard shortcuts. If possible, adjust your mouse sensitivity so you can use a gentle touch to operate it.

Photo of Keyboards and mouse

1.5. Important objects

Keep important objects, such as a stapler or telephone, near your body to reduce reaching. Stand up to get things you can’t get while sitting.

1.6. Chair

You should opt for an office chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust your chair height so that the thighs are parallel to the ground and your feet lay flat on the ground. Your arms should rest on armrests and your shoulders should be relaxed.


1.7. Telephone

If you often talk on your smartphone and type simultaneously, use a headset, or put your smartphone on speaker. Keep in mind not to cradle your smartphone between your neck and head.

2. Background Music

Music is also a factor that affects productivity at workstation. Some individuals prefer silence while they work, while some want to have some music playing while they work. If your colleagues are playing their music loudly, gently request them to wear headphones. However, if you like some noise in the background, you can play light music while you work. Play the music at a volume that allows you to concentrate on your work and keeps your mind attentive but also lets you focus on the task at hand.

Background Music

3. Bad Office Acoustics

Poor acoustics cause more noise, which can cause stress on you. And stress can make you susceptible to hypertension, digestive disorders, headaches, and high blood pressure. Noise pollution contributes to low productivity at work. It is hard to do tasks that require deep focus in such spaces.

According to research, employees in an open office experience problems in concentrating on their task and are 15% less productive due to office distractions. You can use sound-absorbing materials in your office space to decrease the effects of reflected noise.

Examples of good sound-absorbing materials include carpet, acoustic fabric panels, acoustical ceiling tiles, fiberglass, and polyurethane foam. However, you should not use these materials to make noise barriers as they are not good sound barriers. It is a good idea to use a sound absorber with a sound barrier to decrease noise reduction.

You can use sound-absorbing materials to line ceilings, walls, and acoustic enclosures to reduce noise levels.

For open and large offices, it is the best idea to install acoustic panels to decrease too much reverberation and sound echo. This will be particularly useful if you work in an environment where your co-workers make many phone calls or have very loud conversations that distract you.

Apart from this, if daily office noises distract you very much, you can use a white noise machine to block extraneous and background noises.

Photo of Bad Office Acoustics

4. Distractions from social media accounts

Do you check your social media account many times a day? To be more productive and eliminate digital distractions, you need to set aside a time when you will not browse the web and check your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You should concentrate on your work for 45 minutes straight and then have a short break.

Distractions from social media

5. Office Lighting

Is the light in your office very bright or very dim? If the light in your office is very low, you could begin to feel sleepy while trying to complete your task. On the other hand, if the light in your office is very bright, you could begin getting a headache. So, you need to ensure that you have the proper lighting in your workspace.

If you want more lighting in your office space, you should consider buying LED (Light Emitting Diodes) or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) bulbs.

Both of these lighting systems are more cost-efficient and energy-efficient than fluorescent lighting systems.

Office Lighting


Depending on the kind of office you work in, you could be experiencing loud noises, ergonomic setup, office lights that are making you less productive. If you prefer a quiet work environment, you can soundproof your office with noise-canceling drapes and acoustic tiles to reduce outside noises. We hope that some of the tips mentioned above will help you increase efficiency while working.

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