On today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, boosting employee activity is as — or sometimes more — valuable than acquiring new customers or entering new markets.
Of course, executives and decision-makers grasp the link between productivity and profitability, which is why they invest in things like training and technology. But an area that many of them overlook is the work environment itself. Here are four fundamental ways that office design can increase productivity:
1. Use comfortable and ergonomic furniture.
Providing employees with comfortable and ergonomically-designed furniture isn’t just good for engagement and morale — it increases the volume and quality of work itself.
According to research published in the Journal of Public Affairs, there is a significant correlation between choice of furniture and employee productivity. As concluded by the study’s authors: “When the furniture of the office is not comfortable, and according to the needs of the employees their productivity is affected.”
2. Set suitable and sufficient lighting.
Office design that gives employees more control over the lighting in their personal workspace — and liberates them from eye-straining, flickering fluorescent lights that ergonomic and health experts alike have been decrying for decades — also translates into doing more with less. As noted by Bloomberg, “The intensity and type of light [that employees] live with during the workday can have a major impact on health, happiness, and productivity.”
3. Enable comfortable and controllable temperature settings.
For many employees, a chilly or sweaty office environment is the bane of their existence — and not only impacts their mood and level of engagement, but negatively impacts productivity and quality. Some employees are so physically uncomfortable at work that they’re compelled to switch jobs.
Smart office design gets rid of barriers that enable HVAC systems to work more efficiently and evenly (i.e. pockets of the workplace aren’t frigid while others are boiling), and ensures that employees don’t feel like hothouse flowers thanks to an uncovered window, or shiver through the winter because wall insulation is virtually non-existent.
4. Keep noise levels to a minimum.
The reason that employees generally loathe cubicles isn’t because they’re typically too small and boring: it’s because they’re hubs of excessive noise, which diminishes productivity. An optimized office design helps reduce noise levels by, for example, separating “heads down” work areas from open and collaborative spaces.
A Final Word
Is office a design a panacea or magic wand that instantly transforms employees into a high-performance workforce? Obviously not. There’s much more to the productivity puzzle than office design.
Yet with this being said, office design does play a direct and indirect role in whether employees are engaged, productivity, happy and energized — which means it’s as important to business strategy as anything else that boosts the bottom-line.