Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff

Journalists at The Times received a surprise this week when the tip-tapping of old-fashioned typewriters started to ring out into the paper's new London Bridge offices.

But it's not just nostalgia for the vintage Fleet Street clatter that has inspired the latest addition to the workplace. It is suggested that the added crescendo of noise will increase energy levels and help reporters hit deadlines.

We shouldn't be surprised. Whether we are aware of them or not, offices these days are filled with little devices designed to motivate staff. Another publication, Tatler, operates a clear-desk policy. Sure, it may look pleasing, but according to a survey by the National Association of Professional Organisers, having more space on desks can also increase productivity by up to 30 per cent.

And should an office have a distinct, ripe pong (of the pleasant variety, as opposed to someone's sweaty cycling gear festering under a desk) then there's every chance it's been put there on purpose.

"Aromatic solutions providers" such as Aroma Co regularly perfume offices in order to stimulate the workforce. And the sweet smell of success? Lavender will relax employees, lowering stress levels and reducing absenteeism, while an injection of lemon and grapefruit after lunch will reinvigorate workers during the afternoon slump.

In-office doctors are certainly convenient (and come without a fortnight's waiting time), but they have also been found to reduce the number of staff members pulling sickies.

READ MORE: The Times' newsroom set to ring with the sounds of typewriters once more

The presence of treadmill desks are understandably on the rise. As well as offering myriad health benefits, they also boost job performance, according to the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. Just ask Susie Forbes, principal at the Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design, who extolled the virtues of her treadmill desk in a piece in Vogue this year (a stiletto-ed Victoria Beckham has even been snapped borrowing it on a visit to the college).

After all that walking, workers are certainly going to want a lie-down. But research suggests that bosses should encourage them to. Though it might appear counterintuitive, grabbing 15 winks is an excellent way to motivate employees.

In June, Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London, published a study suggesting that a nap of between 30 and 90 minutes in the afternoon could help workers improve productivity. No wonder offices have seen a rise in quiet rooms (including Nike) and sleep pods (such as Procter & Gamble).

But it's Silicon Valley that is leading the workplace revolution. With their slides, games rooms, arcade machines and endless complimentary snacks (the "Google 15" refers to the number of pounds workers can look forward to piling on when they join the company), their workplaces resemble adult theme parks.

But is it all just a ruse to attract the best applicants and ensure workers rarely have to leave the compound, or does having a jelly bean machine actually bolster productivity?

Alison Price, a chartered occupational psychologist and author, believes that workers who enjoy their surroundings are likely to work harder. "It's positive psychology. There is a lot of evidence that happy employees are more productive," Price says. "They are also more creative, generate more sales and are less likely to have time off sick."

Bizarre meeting rooms, anything from Mind Candy's treehouses to Airbnb's recreation of the War Room in Dr Strangelove, are believed to fuel creativity and spark conversations and collaborations.

And Google's famous free canteen? Well, apart from creating a cheerful (and plumper) workforce, the queues are kept intentionally long in the hope that it will encourage employees to discuss possible new projects with each other.

Of course, the tech industry has plenty of cash to splurge on such frivolities. Less affluent companies should just remember that, according to Price, a sincere "good job" from the boss remains an effective way of boosting an employee's productivity.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all