By Geraint Evans, Sales & Marketing Director, Avanta Serviced Office Group

Confidence is high amongst Britain’s SMEs, with widespread optimism about the direction of the economy and business opportunities in 2015. Whilst the wheels of recovery have spun into motion there is still one major issue hindering the growth and profitability of the British economy: productivity. We are 25% less productive than our fellow G7 nations, and the latest ONS figures suggest that this gap is only growing. In this context, measures which address the UK’s ‘productivity gap’ could have a profound effect on profitability.

While there may well be bigger socio-cultural issues at play, there are a number of basic measures which business owners and managers can take in the meantime to unlock new levels of productivity. Here are three ways to make something as simple as office space unlock hidden productivity:

Space is precious, so use it well

Office space can often be one of the biggest cost burdens for startups and growing businesses, so it’s crucial that they use it wisely. The vast majority of business owners don’t have free reign to change their office space, no matter how much their staff would enjoy a ball pond or giant indoor slide. Instead, there are a number of ways to tap into the senses to make the most of your existing space. For example, productivity expert Julian Treasure explains that there are three ‘modes’ of working, all of which are essential to most roles: “contemplation, concentration and collaboration”. Getting the balance wrong can be disastrous for productivity: regular distractions can lead to a drop of up to 66%. Some tasks require a quiet spot to focus, while others will involve teamwork and need an open space that encourages creativity and innovation. When putting in walls or leasing extra space isn’t practical, business owners can use innovative techniques such as sound absorbing panels or even broadcasting ‘soundscapes’ through their offices. It is up to a business owner to consider the kind of work that their employees do, and then consider how their surroundings may help.

Think about the senses

Sight, smell, sound: we’re constantly aware of our senses at work, but most companies ignore their existence. The environment around you is inextricably linked with how you feel, and therefore how you work – so why not consider tapping into the senses? Avanta’s own research found that two thirds of workers agree that how your office smells affects your productivity, morale and attitude.

In addition, research into the effect of light on productivity suggests that there is a lot more companies can do to counter the debilitating effect of winter darkness on employees’ moods and energy levels. An enormous 84% of employees admit to being less motivated through the winter months, with 58% saying this has made them consider looking for a new job. Have you considered installing high intensity lights, or amending the working hours during the darkest months?

Where you are defines who and what you are

As difficult as it is for some economic analysts and commentators to admit, much of our productivity dilemma is intangible. Consider then, the impact your business’s location has on its productivity: are you within easy reach of suppliers and customers? Are you easily reached by existing employees and well placed to tempt the best, most productive talent around into getting on board. Considering the millions Britain’s economy loses every year due to poor weather, does your location mean your business is particularly likely to be affected when snow or floods strike? And, least tangible of all, are you located in an area that has the sort of ‘buzz’ ambitious employees often seek?

The above tips may not be the silver bullet that ends the productivity debate, but there is no doubt that they are an easy, inexpensive and often overlooked way to get the most out of the working day and help your business ride the wave of optimism through 2015.