How Office Design Affects Productivity

Ian Brough

Workplace design is something that is consistently evolving as ideas about how employees should interact change and conflict. Workplace design has been too much around incorporating technology and sustainability and less about the people who work within.

However, the design of an office is becoming increasingly important to businesses. Office design is becoming a source of competitive advantage to both maximize potential, performance and productivity as well as attract and retain the best employees.

We spend a vast majority of our lives working, therefore, our offices should be spaces that we look forward to going to. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all approach to office design, it depends upon the job role and how your employees like to work. This means that design concepts implemented throughout businesses intended for a particular purpose have backfired and actually had a negative impact.

In this installment of our series of articles looking at office design trends, we explore how office design affects productivity.

Some considerations for your next office project:

Reconsider Fully Open-Plan Offices

Open-plan offices were introduced to break down silos, enhance communication between employees and boost the number of spontaneous meetings which would in turn lead to better teamwork and more creativity at work.

However, studies have shown that open plan offices actually have a negative impact on productivity. One study in cognitive control showed that the increased noise from conversations and phone calls in the office reduces the ability of employees to concentrate and focus which was backed by a study by Steelcase who found that 84% of workers reported that their work environment did not allow them to concentrate easily. Another study showed that the reduction of privacy reduced morale and increased both stress and anxiety, and employees were more likely to get ill taking 62% more days off.

Instead, make sure that you cater for both, have areas where workers can operate in privacy and have areas where effective and organic collaboration can take place, this will rapidly increase employees happiness, well-being, and productivity. It means creating different work settings, so throughout the day an employee can move around easily and choose the location suitable for what they are doing.


Utilise Glass to Harness Natural Light

Ensuring that natural light fills the office is another element that can help to create an environment of positivity in the office. A study has shown that working in an office with natural elements resulted in a 15% higher level of well-being, are 6% more productive and 15% more creative. Using glass partitions is an ideal solution for this as it creates dedicated rooms without losing the ability for natural light to filter through.

The great thing about glass partitions is that they can be integrated into your office space at any time and do not require a full office design to provide that well needed refresh to your office space.

Office Ergonomics

Another area that can be implemented without requiring a full office re-design is the furniture. With so much time spent sat at the desk, having the right furniture should be a key consideration for any office. When ergonomic design principles are applied to a space, employee comfort improves, risk of injury decreases and employee efficiency is enhanced.

Office Colour

If you are looking at strategies for motivating your team then a great starting point is refurbishing the space around them. Creating an office environment that stimulates and motivates your employees is the key to a productive workforce. There is a growing body of scientific research into colour psychology that shows colour plays a significant role in creating the right environment needed for productive and creative employees.

Read our post on how colour affects office productivity and how particular colour schemes should be applied in certain environments for your desired effect on the employees in your office space. A new paint scheme in the office might just be the change you need.