Depending on your age, your job description and even your character in general, the way you work is influenced by your environment. Kristina Cassar Dowling gives productivity at the workplace some overtime hours.

The workplace is a strange place. It can be one that brings surges of productive creativity and discussion but on the other hand, it could also be a breeding ground for stressful situations to unravel. When working in a shared or open office, your at-the-desk habits may need to be altered a little bit or at least taken down a notch or two.

After speaking with a number of busy bees who frequent different working environments, the opinions, preferences and suggestions from these varied individuals might be able to help us understand the democracy of a shared working space.

We spoke about stimuli such as music and coffee as well as other factors that may or may not contribute to a healthier working environment such as cleanliness and punctuality.

Music in the workplace: does it help or hinder?

Music has the power to set the mood, the pace and frame the attitude of a busy office space but these factors may not affect everyone in the same way.

You might think that it’s a divide between the older and the younger generation here; but actually it’s more about the type of work being carried out.

Professionals with creative jobs such as creators of artwork, literature and other artistic expressions see music as a driving force supporting their creativity and flair. They felt that music influences the way they work so choosing the right tunes will shape the outcome of a day’s work.

For those with a more systematic job, music is used as a tool to calm the environment when the more robotic procedures are being carried out, such as sending out some e-mails, or alternatively to liven up the mood when paperwork and filing need to be done.

For the more serious sectors of the day, music is usually avoided – nobody likes arrears in their salary so dead silence is usually the way to go in this segment of the day.

Coffee: good or bad?

For most, coffee is the only means to get our tired bodies out of the house and at our desks in the morning. For others coffee is a cruel fiend that revs up your day and often stirs it in the wrong direction. Some of the people I spoke to, especially those with nine-to-five jobs, claimed that coffee is a big help in getting them through the long day. Their intake usually ranges between three to four coffees in a day – one to start the day, a second one to get the first one to work, the third after lunch and the last one as a pick me up mid-afternoon.

No matter how much of an introvert you are, some human contact is necessary in the professional environment

One participant working as a teacher at a private institute shared his seven-coffee-a-day practice – a practice that, in his view, is in no way seen as an addiction but simply a gentle push in getting the job done.

If you’re tired and need a boost, coffee is the quickest and easiest answer; but the effects of caffeine do take their toll on the body. Try and replace that third, fourth and fifth cup with a tea or infusion and better yet, get your blood moving – take a five-minute break to walk around the office or nip outside for a quick walk around the block. Moving around gets your blood pumping and triggers your endorphins to help you function better throughout the day.

Coffee can give you a gentle push to get the job done.Coffee can give you a gentle push to get the job done.

Tidiness: Necessary or not?

This one’s a tough cookie. If you are not self-employed and are in fact forming part of a community, working in a shared space – your desk, and the entire office for that matter, should be kept tidy. It goes without saying that the tidiness of the workplace will be noticed by your employers, your colleagues, by clients and potential business associates who visit the office on a regular basis. It just doesn’t look good.

For those who work from home; it is an entirely different story. It’s your space so you might as well do what you want with it. But if your home office becomes a fermenting station for clutter, disorganisation and chaos, there’s a good chance that you’ll lose focus in the day and distract anyone working in your close environment. A number of survey participants claimed that their mess does not disturb them, but other people’s clutter does take a toll on their productivity – leaving us with the question, is there such a thing as organised clutter?

Punctuality: Is this so important?

This time-focused point doesn’t only affect those who work from an office - it also controls the self-employed and freelance folk who need to get their work done in a timely and proficient manner. Punctuality gives you a start and end point to the day. Clock in at nine and run for the door at five. Playing around with your start time only aggravates the system and will eventually disrupt your train of thought and productivity. When working from an office; your start times are generally set, but a few businesses are rather flexible with time.

Say you work in an iGaming company. With flexible hours, you’ll need to be your best judge and choose a convenient time for you to start. Whether your reasons are to beat the traffic or get a few more hours of sleep in the morning, keep a routine and try your hardest to stick to it. One person I spoke to said that whenever she gets to the office early in the morning, she gets most of her work done before noon, giving her enough time to catch up on the workload and plan for the following day. The biggest perk for her though is that if she gets in at 7am, she’s free to head home at 3pm.

Actually being in the office: Does it make a difference?

Remote jobs are the future. Why challenge society to get up and leave their home when they can very easily get the job done from a home office or simply from a laptop in the peace of their garden?

Because we’re social animals, that’s why and spending 100 per cent of your working life at home may pose some social problems.

Working from home has its benefits, like increased productivity, efficiency and flexibility – three key factors that most people would cash in for in a heartbeat if it meant a losing the water-cooler talk at the office. It’s finding the balance that’s important. Structure your week to get out of the house, working from a cafeteria every now and then or scheduling a meeting at least once a month. No matter how much of an introvert you are, some human contact is necessary in the professional environment.

Taking a break: Do we need it?

Most people I spoke to do not value their break hour, as most companies do not pay for their employees to eat their lunch – so for a number of individuals this works out to be a waste of time. For those who work casual hours in a company, their hourly rate needs to stretch over to cover the lost break hour that is enforced. Those working in a regular office or establishment claim that a good portion of their breaks are taken up by colleague questions, managerial meetings and other work-related activities that feed off their unpaid hour. Those that do not get a lunch break complained of the impact an eight-hour day has on the mind and the body – so it seems like there’s no winning here.

Taking a break, a minute to breathe and fuel the body, is so important. Your entire being craves tranquillity and peace so choosing not to take a break elevates stress levels, increases anxiety in the workplace and simply hinders the way people work.

After discussing all the above points, it’s clear that there is no one answer to fit the mould, there is no mould, we all need to find our rhythm and stick to it as much as possible.

When it comes to dealing with the stress of a busy day, we need to learn how to listen to our bodies; evaluate the situation we are in with a clear head and take the necessary decisions to making a change. Shutting down - both your work computer and your rattling brain, will keep you from straying away off the tracks. Sometimes it’s more than an evening at home or weekend that will clear your head - book that holiday and treat yourself to a sweet break or simply take a ‘me-day’, one day off to give yourself an unexpected break.

Is there such a thing as organised clutter?Is there such a thing as organised clutter?

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