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The 5 best apps for employee productivity

The digital revolution has mostly changed our lives for the better, but there’s one way in which it’s hurting businesses: employee productivity. Limitless distractions are now available at our fingertips, on both our computers and our phones, and only the strongest-willed among us can resist.

Luckily, there are innovations that can help remedy this problem. Some come in the form of restructuring the very spaces we work in: roomy breakout spaces and standing desks are known to improve employee productivity when implemented correctly.

There are also plenty of clever ideas to tackle distractions that are available on your phone. So, if you’re are struggling to stay productive, the good news is that there might just be an app for that.

Here are our 5 favourite apps to help you and your team stay focused at work.

1. Forest

Screenshot of the Forest productivity app

Available on: iOS, Android

Price: Free (Google Play), £1.99 (App Store)

Remember when Tamagotchi was all the rage? Forest uses a similar concept: you nurture a virtual being until it reaches full growth, which Forest uses it to “gamify” your productivity.

When you want to focus, you plant a tree in the Forest app. In your focus time, the seed will begin to grow, slowly developing into a sturdy digital tree as each minute passes.

However, if you leave the app and do something else on your phone during your focus time, your tree dies. Whether it’s to check Facebook, your emails or to indulge in some Buzzfeed clickbait, there’s suddenly something to lose. By providing an immediate consequence of distraction, Forest deters people from using their phones unless they absolutely have to.

The app helps employees stay on track by not only raising the stakes in the game but in the real world, too. As employees build their own forest of trees (a great visual representation of all that good focus time), they earn points that they can spend on planting trees in real life.

It’s good for your business and good for the environment. What’s not to love?

2. Trello

Screenshot of the Trello desktop appAvailable on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free

Losing track of tasks can be a big productivity killer. Trello helps prevent that by providing you with a way to visualise all of your projects at once.

When you want to create a new task in Trello, you create a ‘card’. You can then add attachments, comments, deadlines and other users that the project is relevant to each card. Each user on your card will get notified each time you update it and can add their own comments, too.

Cards go into lists that you can label according to status. For example, projects that haven’t yet been started might go into a list called “Pipeline”, whereas tasks awaiting some feedback or need more information might go into a list called “Blocked”. Ordering your tasks like this lets you quickly see where any project is up to — no more wasting time sifting through emails when Karen from Accounts needs an update.

Best of all, Trello is free to use, so you can add everybody in your team to your board and start working together straight away.

3. Hours

Screenshot of the Hours productivity app

Available on: iOS

Price: Free

Sometimes you’ll be in the middle of a task, get distracted, and then before you know it, an hour’s gone by.

Keeping track of how you’ve used your time helps you retrospectively identify where you’ve used your time well, and where you might have idly whittled those minutes away.

Hours makes tracking time easy. You add new tasks that you’re working on and click the timer next to them when you start. Whenever you switch your focus to something else, you can start timing on the next task. When your day has finished, you’ll have a timeline that displays how you’ve used all of your time in a simple way.

Not quite accurate? You can go back and edit your timeline to ensure it’s a true representation of your day to factor in for those ad hoc requests.

4. Slack

Screenshot of the Slack desktop appAvailable on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free with Premium plans available

Slack is so revolutionary that it’s already found its way into thousands of workplaces across the world. It removes the pain of sifting through emails by providing an easy-to-use internal communications tool.

Slack helps teams work on projects together with instant messaging. Users can create separate ‘channels’ in which specific projects, clients or even company events can be discussed. You can tag other users to alert them to messages that they might need to see — that way, rather than asking you to dig out an old email, your colleagues can simply check through the channel to find the relevant conversation thread.

It’s free to use, too, so you can get your team signed up and tackling those big projects together in no time without having to leave their desks.

5. Grammarly

The Grammarly logo

Available on: Desktop, iOS, Android

Price: Free with Premium plans available

I know what you’re thinking: a grammar-checking tool isn’t a productivity tool. However, bad grammar can actually cost your company hundreds of hours of employee time; with every “Can you check this email for me?”, someone gets pulled away from a task that’s more important.

Grammarly buys you time back by working as a language assistant wherever you’re typing. When you install Grammarly on your browser, it will proofread your emails, social posts and documents, making quick suggestions to improve that clunky turn of phrase or wordy sentences.

Best of all, the basic version of Grammarly is free, so you can ensure your employees are outputting well-written, professional-sounding work without it costing you a penny.

 

Smart apps like these are helping offices around the world stay motivated and productive amidst a growing tidal wave of digital distraction.

Worried that young workers have been conditioned to be distracted online? Find out why Millennials actually make the best employees.

Accessories, Furniture, Power, Products, Workplace

Don’t Compromise — Accessorise! We Show You How…

As well as our signature range of office furniture, we also supply a select range of all-important accessories designed to help your workplace reach its very highest potential. As with our office desks, chairs, task lighting and space-planning products, all of our accessories are chosen for their high levels of quality, delivering consistent optimal performance. So, what’s in the range? Here is a taste…

Power

No office could work without electricity, a power source which has become so integral to our modern lives that we take it completely for granted. Power management is therefore of paramount importance and the range of components in this section are designed for convenience and reliability.

Cable Management

A quick peep behind our TV at home will leave most of us shuddering at the snarled tangle of wires,  making us quickly look away and wonder why we looked behind there in the first place. In the office, particularly if there are many computers, the problem is dramatically magnified – check out our range of options for cable management to prevent Spaghetti Junction!

Air Purifiers

Keep everyone in the office breathing easy by heading over to this section. You could completely change the atmosphere of your workplace for the better with one of our contemporary air purifiers.

Railex Files

The 1970s vision of a paperless office never quite came to fruition – keeping hard copy of many documents is essential practice. Railex is a comprehensive filing system and offers the perfect way to keep everything practically organised for fast and accurate location later on.

Lighting

March is Workplace Eye Awareness Month and, as the eye functions by interpreting light and the way it strikes different objects, workplace lighting is an important consideration. Getting it exactly right in each unique environment is a challenge but one that our experienced and talented team are more than qualified to take on and win.

Hotboxes

Want to save space, improve productivity and protect important documents? Use a Hotbox to do all three at once with the added benefit of being able to take it with you – the product is sturdy, durable, compact and lightweight with its own optional wheeled caddy.

Have we whetted your appetite? Then head on over to our ‘Accessories’ section to discover even more items in the range!

Accessories, Desks, Furniture, Tables, Workplace

The Benefits of Standing Desks

The brain. The body. How often we mentally, verbally and symbolically draw a distinction between these two things which are, ipso facto, two parts of the unique, unified you. Sit/stand desks are almost exclusively associated with beneficial effects on the body and, though these do lead to beneficial mental effects as well, the results of a new study appear to show a much more direct, organic and potentially-groundbreaking link. Ready to improve your neurocognition? Let’s take the journey together.

The most recent edition of respected scientific publication The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health contained the results of a year-long study carried out at a high school in Texas, USA. Led by Ranjana Mehta, a team of researchers followed a group of 27 young people through a year at school, administering neurocognitive tests at the beginning and end. In the interim, the students underwent a transition to ‘standing-biased’ classrooms, having never experienced such a thing prior to the study.

Five cognitive tests (evaluating decision-making, reasoning, memory, modification of cognitive strategy and cognitive flexibility) were given before and after the 27 students had been exposed to sit/stand desk options. Results of the tests, which were inspired by observational data and combined with data from a portable brain-imaging machine, indicated that using a sit/stand desk:

  • Caused or contributed to a general improvement in participants’ test scores of between 7-14%. It appears highly unlikely that education received during the year could have caused such a leap as scores from these standard tests are usually fixed around the age of 12

  • Increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with working memory and high-level problem-solving/decision-making

  • Is worthy of further, more detailed studies with a seated control group and including average grades and standardised test scores

Concluding, the authors of the study said: “These findings provide the first preliminary evidence on the neurocognitive benefits of standing desks, which to date have focused largely on energy expenditure. If the results are backed up in further studies, it could mean that a simple furniture swap to standing desks could lead to a rise in outstanding students.”

We have embraced the sit/stand desk concept since it emerged and can now offer a wide selection of designs to suit any office space. Start browsing the collection HERE and call us to get a fast, competitive quote!

Accessories, Furniture, Power, Workplace

Can You Guess The Hottest Office Design Trends for 2016?

‘Ripe for Reinvention’ – this is what the modern workplace is revealed to be in a new research paper by Teknion in collaboration with respected design experts. The paper, titled ‘Ethonomics: Designing For The Principles Of The Modern Workplace’, outlines new and innovative design strategies that are predicted to have an influential effect in 2016.

It is becoming more commonly recognised that the workspace should bend and flex to meet the needs of the workers that inhabit it. Many companies are doing extremely well at implementing new strategies but there is still much room for improvement. Here we look at some of the most important office design trends to watch out for in 2016.

  • Concealing Cables – power and data are clearly essential in the office environment but the problem of wires is a continuing one. Office furniture manufacturers are developing ever-more optimal ways to integrate cables seamlessly, preventing a prestigious executive office desk from looking shabby, disorganised and scruffy
  • Multitask, Multipurpose – this is one area where progress is swift. As cubicle-style offices become less common, replaced by bench desking solutions, non-assigned seating is just as quickly sweeping in. Oval desks are predicted to grow in popularity as a convenient and versatile meeting place for larger groups while sit/stand height-adjustable office desks will be put to uses during standing meetings
  • Go Green – natural decoration is high on the list of many renowned interior designers. Incorporating natural, organic patterns in fabrics is growing in prominence, as is the inclusion of green plants and foliage within the office space. Plants, both real and artificial, have a number of proven positive effects on employees from reduced absence to improved motivation and productivity
  • Love to Lounge – Jeff Miller, formerly of Herman Miller and Apple, is now Vice President of Design for Poppin, a globally-successful office furniture manufacturer. He predicts new spaces being created that are totally at odds with traditional rigid workstations. Comfort is key, suggests Miller, saying that this ‘stimulates relaxed collaboration’. This need to provide comfort mandates the need for dedicated lounge areas

We can quickly and reliably supply everything you need to transform your office ready for 2016 and the future beyond. Cable management, office desking, replica plants, soft seating – we really do have it all and also employ a skilled, talented and passionate space planning team.

Ready for 2016? If not, call DBI Furniture Solutions today and we will set you on the right path.