While I may not be an Islander myself, I have spent most of my life in rural New Brunswick and have learned first hand about the challenges (and opportunities) of living outside of a major metropolitan area. As a business owner there is more competition for great talent, fewer facilities ready for your business to set up shop or expand into, and customers are spread out over a larger area. These challenges can add extra hurdles that need to be overcome when trying to grow and scale a business; that this just means you need to be that much leaner, productive and efficient.
Study after study coming out in recent years has shown that the environment people are working in has a direct impact on their productivity. By working to create a more productive work environment you create a more productive team. This helps to relieve some of the pressure from recruiting in a smaller labour market, reduces the need to expand into a larger office space, and gives you more value for every dollar spent on overhead and salaries. The best part? Creating a more productive work environment doesn’t need to be a huge project.
Different types of work require different light levels. For example, when working with paper documents our eyes require exponentially more light than we do when reading from a computer monitor. One of the easiest ways to rid your office of mid-afternoon headaches is to place a task light on everyone’s desk. Now that everyone has plenty of light where they need it most (on their documents) there is no more need for the 200 watts of overhead lighting overkill that plague so many offices. A light level that mimics the natural light levels is proven to be easiest on our eyes and least likely to cause eye strain.
Recent studies have shown that people are actually more productive when they are in a more natural environment. While we don’t advocate moving your team to the middle of a field for the workday, allowing more natural light into your space by moving private offices to the centre of your office and workstations to the exterior can help everyone have at least one window in eyesight. If rearranging your space doesn’t make sense, try adding more potted plants. Those same studies that show that we work better in a natural environment conclude that the improved air quality provided by being in close proximity to plants the simple visual cue of being able to see plants makes people happier, more content, and more productive.
Sit well, Feel well, Work well
When people are comfortable and healthy at work they take less sick days and produce more. It’s as simple as that. Your team deserves chairs that are designed to reduce the strain on their back, neck and legs. Retrofit their desks to be height adjustable so that they can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. The science is clear that both sitting and standing for extended periods of time is terrible for both our bodies and brains. Thankfully, there are products available that can be easily added to an existing work surface to create a height adjustable workstation without spending thousands on a new desk.
Operating a business outside of a major city can certainly pose a variety of challenges but it also poses many opportunities. Create a more productive work environment for your team and minimize some of those challenges and set your business up for success.