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What’s Getting in Your Way of Becoming a Top Performer? It Might Just Be Your Work Environment

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management

I used to work with a woman who would go to the local coffee shop to make prospecting calls. She used to say, “They drink the caffeine and I feed off of their energy.”

A creative co-worker of mine can’t function in the office when he’s searching for ideas. He works from home where it’s quieter.

I find it impossible to work without using two screens. Switching back and forth on one screen drives me bananas.

Your work environment can be motivating or demotivating. When you’re in a particular place, you tend to do (or not do) specific things. You feel different depending on where you are and what’s around you.

In RAIN Group’s latest Extreme Productivity Benchmark Report, more than 2,300 sellers and business professionals were asked about their work habits and behaviors. Analysts reviewed their responses through the lenses of productivity, job performance, happiness, and job satisfaction. The findings revealed that the Extremely Productive (the XP) are particularly tuned in to their environments. They are 3.3 times more likely to organize their work environment to maximize productivity.

Take a page out of The XP’s playbook: tune into the environmental factors that shut down your mojo. When you know you need to focus on a task — crafting a sales pitch, making calls, or working on a presentation — change your environment to boost your success.

There are two ways to change your environment to supercharge your productivity.

Be Someplace Else

It’s pretty straightforward: literally, work from a different spot. Work from home, go to a coffee shop, move to a conference room or open office space. Move from an open space into a private space. Do whatever you need to allow you to get in the zone.

Some people prefer to work outside of the office to escape the countless distractions, but there are other reasons why someone might need a change of scenery. Take the example I shared above about my colleague who worked at the local coffee shop.

One study found that people experienced increased productivity when they were surrounded by other people. If you work in a small, secluded office with limited interactions, try moving to a place where you’re in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

Note that it’s not just about leaving the office. When I need inspiration, I go to the office. I need the interactions and energy of my teammates to get my creative juices flowing.

Change Your Workspace

You can’t always just get up and leave. There are, however, things you can do at your desk to make your environment inspiring.

  • Change your work schedule. We have one employee who comes in two hours before everyone else arrives. This is when they feel most productive. It’s also two hours of distraction-free time to focus on their greatest impact activity. Some employees prefer to arrive later and stay into the evening, allowing them to work in silence when the office has cleared out.
  • Put your phone away. The constant dings, buzzes, and rings from cell phones are distracting. Many people leave cellphones on their desks. This is an open invitation for distraction. Research found that employees spend about 56 minutes per day using their cell phones for personal affairs while at work. Put your phone in your drawer, bag, or any place that prevents you from losing nearly an hour of focus.
  • Change the lighting. Studies have shown a link between light exposure in workplaces and employee productivity and performance. If you work in a windowless office, move to an area where you can get sunlight. An added bonus: exposure to natural light also improves health and wellness.
  • Add some plants. A little greenery is more than just décor. Psychologists found that adding plants in the workplace can improve employee satisfaction and can increase productivity by up to 15%. Go green!
  • Wear noise-canceling headphones. Originally developed for airline pilots, these headphones can do wonders when it comes to blocking out noise. Orfield Laboratories Inc. conducted a study and found that using noise-reducing headphones can screen out as much as three-fourths of office noise.
  • Declutter your desk. Purge anything that might hinder your focus. Studies show that the average person wastes 4.3 hours per week searching for paper. Once you’ve disposed of all unnecessary items, make the shift to go paperless or come up with a system to keep everything organized.
  • Take a stand. Studies have shown that employees who use standing desks are more productive than their colleagues in standard, seated desks. If your company offers these desks, try one out to see if it works for you. Bonus: standing can help prevent shoulder and back pain.
  • Re-arrange your desk. Don’t over-accessorize your desk. Add an object — picture, award, or a quote — that inspires you. Keep a snack in your desk drawer for when you need to fuel your energy. Keep items you use frequently nearby. Lastly, having a comfortable chair is a must (that is, if you’re not standing).

Do whatever you need to do to get started, get in the zone, and stay there. Whether you work someplace else or make changes at the office, tune into your environment and your results will rise to new levels.