Productivity is something many employers look for in their current staff as well as in new hires. If employees are productive it costs the business less to achieve the same results.

But productivity depends on many different factors. For instance, whether or not the employee is managing time wisely can impact productivity. So can their skill set, work habits, and the tools they’ve been provided with.

Still, there are some surprising factors that can affect productivity as well. Here are some to consider.

1. Temperature Changes

When people are either too hot or too cold it can make a difference in their work. This is true for both indoors and out.


Cold temperatures can deflate a person’s mood as well as their productivity. Employees will be preoccupied with staying warm rather than working to the best of their ability.

On the other hand, workers who are overheated don’t work well either. They’ll feel sluggish, which makes them work slower and accomplish less.

Ideal temperatures for optimal productivity are somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures workers will be comfortable and ready to get as much done as possible.


The weather outside can affect the mood and efficiency of employees working inside. If it’s cloudy, some staff members may seem lethargic and have trouble working to their potential.

Conversely, sunny weather can boost the morale of workers and make them feel happy. This could help them to stay focused and get more done.

2. Listening to Music

Listening to music is one of the favorite pastimes of many people. Some people like to listen while they work because they say it helps them work better. The surprising thing is that they could be right.

Background music in particular can affect people’s mood which, in turn, can positively affect productivity. Therefore, listening to pleasing music can help workers complete tasks faster. This may be a surprising factor that can affect productivity in the workplace.

3. Building Lighting

Trying to work in poor lighting isn’t easy. Workers may struggle to see and have to repeat some tasks or make corrections to get it right.

At the same time, some people have issues with indoor lights being too bright. This can cause migraines and make working at peak levels very difficult.

To correct this problem, update workspace lighting to suit each employee if possible.

4. Inadequate Equipment

Very little in the workplace is more frustrating than trying to do a job with inadequate equipment. At times it feels like bailing out a sinking boat with a teacup.

Even though business owners should try to keep costs down there is a point when spending is necessary. There’s a difference between being frugal with resources and being cheap to the point of it actually costing more. This applies to machines, office furniture, apps, and more.

5. Employee Satisfaction

When employees are not satisfied at work it affects productivity. Workplace struggles or inadequacies often lead to bad attitudes and employees who no longer care.

Needless to say, employees who no longer care, but are still employed, aren’t working to their potential.

However, the opposite is true for workers who love their jobs. They feel a high degree of satisfaction and, as a result, often produce high volumes of work.

Consequently, businesses who desire greater productivity should strive to achieve employee satisfaction. This can be achieved by listening to them and working with them to improve the working relationship.

6. Completing Busywork

Sometimes busywork gets set aside until employees have time to complete it. This makes sense when there are other projects of greater urgency or importance. But eventually even the busywork can take on greater significance.

Let’s say a manager has put off filing for several months by letting it pile up on a file cabinet. But now the boss needs something that should be filed and easy to find. Suddenly the busywork takes on more importance than before.

Rather than waiting until that scenario becomes reality, businesses should do some busywork for a few minutes each week. This may not get all of the busywork done, but it can avoid lost time searching for some things.

In addition, completing busywork provides a sense of accomplishment. It may be surprising, but it affects productivity by spurring on employees to mark other things off their lists. It’s also a low stress way to get things done.

treadmill workout

7. Regular Exercise

Everyone knows there are many positives about regular exercise. Nevertheless, in addition to the health benefits it can affect productivity positively.

Exercise gets the blood circulating and provides cells with more oxygen. This improves brain function and lowers stress levels.

Employees who are less stressed and healthier work faster and get more done. This adds up to increased efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

8. Lack of Training

A lack of training can hold businesses back from success by affecting productivity. Since every worker is different, the amount of training needed will differ from employee to employee. This must be taken into consideration in the workplace.

Additionally, employers should ensure their staff makes use of all the tools available to be more productive. This includes making the most of calendars, scheduling systems, and other apps.

9. Cluttered Desks

Although some people believe a cluttered desk conveys the appearance of busyness, others disagree. The truth is that when a desk is covered in multiple files, papers, pens, and other things it’s hard to work.

Workers who keep their workspace in this state lose track of things and feel more stressed. At the very least they are at least a little distracted. To prevent this, they should file what they can and keep an organized desk.

This will keep them working at high levels of productivity.

Office Desk Job

10. Workplace Ergonomics

One of the surprising factors that can affect productivity is workplace ergonomics. Not everyone buys into the concept, but it truly does have an impact.

Take the worker whose chair sits too low. This makes for an uncomfortable position when typing on a computer keyboard. Uncomfortable employees will not produce as much work as those with ergonomically correct workstations.

Conversely, employees who have comfortable work environments are able to forget about them. This allows them to concentrate on their work rather than sore backs, arms, or necks. They get more done and can provide greater value to their employer.

11. Home Routines

Employees who really want to improve productivity should start at home. They should get organized in the evenings before work the next day. They can do this in more than one way.


If workers take lunch with them each day they should do prep work the night before. This enables them to get ready faster in the morning and arrive at work on time.

Once they arrive at work they’ll be more productive since they aren’t scrambling to catch up from being late.


The prepared worker can lay out their clothing the night before. This is another trick to get to work on time each morning and be more productive.


Another idea for employees to be more productive is to check out their calendars the night before. When they get to work each day they’ll be more prepared and, therefore, more productive.

Clearly there are lots of surprising factors that can affect productivity. Some are positive and some negative. Identification of the negative ones can bring about changes to make workers more productive than ever.