Sparking Productivity through Office Design—Where Do We Start?

Sparking Productivity through Office Design—Where Do We Start

Office design is an investment, not a cost.

You may have heard that we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, but do you know work also takes up a similar portion of our lives? An average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime; therefore, it’s no exaggeration to say that the office is our “second home”.

We try to make our homes comfortable, so why shouldn’t we do the same for our offices? Moreover, office architecture affects a company’s productivity and morale. In light of these, here are our top tips for building or transforming your offices (or home offices) to maximize productivity:

Choose the color wisely (and avoid white and gray!)

Often, we don’t struggle with choosing a clock to hang on the wall or a vase to put on the coffee table. We can simply remove them at a snap of a finger when we are tired of them. Yet, picking a color for the office wall can stress many of us out because we can’t risk the time and money to repaint the office if we’ve picked the wrong color.

Although there’s no such thing as “right colors”, there are colors you should avoid if you want to boost productivity, like white and gray. People paint their office walls white nine times out of ten because it makes the workspace look tidy and professional. However, white is not a good option when it comes to office design because it can make employees feel drained of inspiration and energy. A study by the University of Texas suggests that white is a sterile color that doesn’t contribute to productivity.

If you want to maximize productivity in your workplace, you may consider painting your office in these colors:

  • blue—to calm people down while making them feel energized; 
  • purple—to spark creativity and encourage collaboration; or 
  • green—to make people feel comfortable and reduce eye fatigue while working.

Open office hinders collaboration

The open office design gained popularity back in the 1950s. Since then, many companies have adopted this décor idea for their offices because the design is claimed to facilitate collaboration and boost productivity. While all of this seems to make sense, the reality is the opposite. 

According to an empirical study by Harvard University, employees in open offices have 70% fewer face-to-face interactions than those who work in closed offices. This is because people tend to withdraw from their colleagues in an open setting, preventing employees from collaborating closely with their fellows and killing productivity.

While installing partitions appears to be a good old trick to create personal working spaces in no time, you can do a bit more. Employers can label each personal workspace with office door name plates to give employees a sense of ownership over their work. Doing so  establishes professionalism which in turn improves productivity. 

Natural light is better

Not all offices have enough natural light to illuminate the space, that’s why companies often need to install different types of indoor lighting to brighten the gloom. Unfortunately, rather than offering employees a bright and comfortable working environment, overhead fluorescent lighting in offices is detrimental to eye health and can cause eye strain, headaches and many more related problems that can detract employees from productivity.

The best solution is to bring more natural light into the office. When designing the office layout, you must consider installing more windows or doors. The more openings you have in the space, the more natural illumination you’ll get. According to a study conducted by Cornell University, workers who work in daylit offices are 84% less likely to suffer from health conditions, such as eyestrain and headaches. What’s more, natural light can also help workers focus on their work.

If your budget doesn’t allow you to install more windows, you can simply move the office desks nearer to larger windows so that you can protect your employees’ vision while boosting productivity.

Every office needs ergonomic furniture

Sitting and working in front of the computer for a long time can be tiring, especially if you use regular desks and chairs. Poor desk setups can hurt employees’ arms, wrists, joints and backs, which, in the short term, can lead to frequent absences and, in the long run, low productivity.

Correcting the poor desk setups is simple: buy ergonomic furniture. There are different types of ergonomic furniture on the market that look modern and can fit into the ultimate office design, so you don’t have to worry about turning your office into a rehabilitation center. 

What differentiates an ergonomic chair from regular office chairs is its adjustability. There are fully adjustable ergonomic chairs, where you can adjust the height, armrests, seat pans and headrests according to your needs. 

Silence matters

Noise is everywhere, and the office is no exception. If you are someone who needs complete silence to concentrate on your work, you need an office with good noise control. It is estimated that employees lose up to 86 minutes per day at work due to noise distractions, be it a loud air conditioning system or a clicky mechanical keyboard. Without a plan to tackle those noises, your company’s productivity can gradually slide down.

According to the U.S. General Services Administration, there are three main ways in which we can tackle those unwanted noises: absorb, block and mask. Let’s take “block” as an example. Besides creating a sense of ownership, installing partitions is also an effective way to fight noise (especially thick glass partitions) because they can serve as physical barriers to block external sound.

Now that you have learned the relationship between office design and productivity, inspect your office by following these tips and furnish your second home accordingly to maximize productivity! Good luck!

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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