How workspace design can impact employees' performance

Whether you’re working from home or in an office, it’s important to feel comfortable in your workspace.

Your workspace can impact your performance, mood and efficiency both positively and negatively. If you're squeezed in a plain room with hard chairs and fluorescent lights, you’re unlikely to be as motivated as you would in an open space with large windows and private cubicles. Similarly, if you’re in an open plan noisy office with many distractions, you’re probably not going to have the most productive and private team meetings. This article looks at why design matters in the workspace, and why having the choice and flexibility to work in a way that best suits the task on hand can ultimately improve productivity and performance.

Why does design matter?

Most of us spend around a third of our day in our workspace. Our environment affects the way we work and it’s important to feel happy and healthy in our work environment. Purposeful design supports a purpose-driven culture and ultimately can establish a sense of community, impact employee productivity, affect employee health and boost company morale. Design can have a knock on affect towards all of these factors, therefore design does matter - a considerable amount.

A study by the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management found that workers are most likely to be affected by the most basic senses first; temperature and light. Both natural light and the ability to control artificial light are simple things we take for granted, but remove the ability to control them and their effects can irritate. No matter the configuration of your workspace, you can improve employees’ health and productivity by ensuring the flow of quality air, using natural lighting and providing access to green spaces. Comfort is often the key to a happy, productive staff, but people also need space for both concentration and communication.

If we want a culture that focuses on building community and teamwork, we make sure to leave plenty of gathering space for collaboration. Contrastingly, we can offer spatial features, which allow more private meetings and gatherings. If creativity is important, we can make the office aesthetically pleasing with inspiring art and design. There are many ways to make design a priority. Seek out suggestions from employees themselves – this helps maintain a core value of giving everyone a voice.

Designs and habits that can improve productivity

There are many benefits and drawbacks with differently designed workspaces. Open plan offices are thought to break down barriers and increase understanding between employees of all levels; create a less hierarchical, more laid-back atmosphere, and facilitate collaboration between coworkers. This collaboration, in turn, can promote greater productivity and creative thinking amongst coworkers. While open office spaces do promote more interaction between coworkers, this isn’t always a good thing. Several studies have found that open offices are noisy places, and this noise is a persistent distraction for workers. Another downside of open offices is they are devoid of privacy and hamper productivity by increasing absenteeism due to sickness.

Most companies can’t afford to give every employee a private office, however the solution may be in finding a healthy balance between collaborative and private office spaces. Employees benefit from collaborative workspaces, but they also need to have places they can retreat to in order to hold private meetings and conduct work that requires strict concentration or is time-sensitive, or otherwise satisfy their own personal work style. When employees feel empowered to shift their work environment depending on the type of work in front of them, it can increase their morale and their performance on the job.

Culture is therefore so important. If you create a work environment in which employees feel valued, managers are approachable and workers are empowered to adapt their workspace to their own needs (or work outside of the office if necessary), then you’ll have the best chance of inspiring a motivated and productive workforce.

Why modern workspace can maximise productivity

In today’s workplace, open floor plans and collaborative spaces have become the norm. The truth is, there is method to the modern workspace, and it isn’t simply aesthetic. It is designed to challenge and reshape the traditional standard of productivity, encourage collaboration and foster creativity. It is without question that technology is also changing the way we work. New technologies are enabling remote working, co-working spaces and teleconferencing as drivers of change in the workplace. Employees can communicate with one another anytime, anywhere, and it changes the very nature of the workplace. Collaboration becomes easier. As such, technology has also made it feasible to save the commute time and work from home.

The office of the future will not only fulfil a worker’s task-based needs, but their emotional needs too. A homogenous and generic environment is simply no good for creativity or happiness. It’s widely believed that happy employees are productive employees, so it’s only natural that the environment that they work in makes a huge difference when it comes to overall productivity.


This guest post has been written by Sabrina Klein from Wild at Heart.

Sabrina Klein, Guest Author

Written on Monday, 02 Apr 2018



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