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I tried: A small change that can make a big difference to productivity

Who would have thought a mouse could have so much influence over productivity? Find out what happens when you get comfortable in your chair.
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Ever since the financial crisis, annual productivity growth decreased to just above zero. This shortfall is brought into perspective when compared with other G7 nations. Indeed, NatWest figures suggest that SMEs only generate £147,000 worth of output per year. This is less than half that of their German counterparts. 

Of course, numerous fads have surfaced, each promising a happier and more efficient workforce. There have been calls for fewer meetings, the need to listen to music while working and to eat foods that enhance energy throughout the day. But do any of these actually work?

Will sometimes saying “no” to assignments allow you to focus more? Do certain apps help you prioritise better? What about reigning in your caffeine intake? We’ll find out.

Real Business, along with the help of UK bosses, will be testing the many methods hailed by the business community. These will be methods that haven’t been tried before by the person trialling them – all in the span of one week.

I started things off with, of all things, an ergonomic mouse – and gel armrest.

A difference I didn’t expect

Let me start with a personal story. Since high school, I’ve struggled with my shoulder. My right shoulder blade and rib cage scrape against each other and to compensate I started placing straps on the left shoulder.

Now, sitting normally against an office chair, my injured shoulder blade protrudes slightly and stands higher in comparison to the one I placed so much stress and pressure on. My left shoulder blade doesn’t touch the chair. Typing for a living, I become conscious of my posture – and the occasional pain.

Take me as an example of an average, injured employee/ employer. But what does this have to do with productivity? When you aren’t comfortable, you won’t always produce. Working in uncomfortable conditions, whether the screen isn’t the right height or the chair back is too far back, takes its toll mentally and physically.

So much advice centres on setting priorities, but you won’t pay that much attention if your muscles tense up from the strain of a bad sitting position. It’s why I decided to try a new mouse – an ergonomic mouse – and it took some getting used to.

Rocking my new mouse and gel armrest

The grip is completely different. Often times I found myself accidentally turning the mouse onto its side – because the side, where the left and right click is to be found, just looked like it had to be on top!

I would get the hang of it, go grab some coffee, come back, and turn it the wrong way around again. It was an odd week. But there were benefits.

My mouse’s lead was quite short, which tended to exasperate my shoulder as I was limited to moving the mouse. With a wireless ergonomic mouse, my posture sits more naturally. I would say I’ve come to love the del mousepad as well.

While it has made a difference to me personally, I can see how it would be beneficial on numerous fronts. The time learning how to handle it is worth it. Even if you don’t have an injury, it’s easy on the wrists.

Essentially, it increases comfort – something more bosses should acknowledge as key to the working day.

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About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is the deputy editor of Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

Real Business