How Does Office Design Affect Productivity?

By |2018-02-22T17:29:14+00:00June 4th, 2015|Categories: Features|Tags: |

Good office design will directly influence employee morale and engagement with your business. Make a few simple changes or even large ones and you can improve all areas of your business.

Today, companies are forced to look harder at what influences their results, to optimise every process and to make the most of their resources.
One such influence is office design which plays a large part in the productivity, morale and the overall culture of a brand.

Experts in this field confirm that office design directly affects employee health, well-being and productivity within the workforce.
Although many people may consider that an office is a simple space where we perform certain tasks, there are many factors influencing the optimal performance of this area.
An integrated, well-planned office design and work space significantly affects the productivity of your employees. Important aspects, such as the architecture, lighting or furniture and also the organisation of your desktop are essential to the performance of the varying job functions that every employee carries out on a daily basis.

Individual work space: desktop

tidy_desktopThe reality is that regardless of other elements, working in a disorganised environment consisting of stacks of unfiled documents or scattered notes on the work surfaces makes an employee’s workday a real struggle.
Such a scene undoubtedly affects productivity, as it becomes impossible to find particular documents or find enough free space in which to actually work.
It’s important to determine what is actually indispensable in our daily working environment, so we reduce the office to its essentials. Only then can we ensure the necessary space, which directly influences our morale, stress levels and efficiency.

There are a number of ways to reduce the chaos forming in our work spaces:

  • Filing all the documents, using folders which are properly identified
  • Keeping frequently used items close by in drawers or cupboard
  • Destroying irrelevant documents securely using a shredder
  • Grouping notes by priority and, of course, throwing away notes pertaining to completed tasks
  • Label anything that might be helpful to locate it easily and faster in the future


The aim of ergonomics is to improve the conditions under which everyday activities are performed in the workplace. This helps to minimise potential associated health risks.

Ergonomics plays a key role in business as it increases employee engagement by allowing the development of tasks under optimum conditions, it also helps prevent future injuries and when well applied, it can help to reduce fatigue.
In a sense, the office design is essential to allow a perfect integration of the employee into the workplace.
Poorly designed working conditions can affect the hands, wrists, joints and/or back which can then lead to absence and its associated costs.

There are different recommendations depending on the type of working environment, but for office design, these are some of the indispensable factors to take into account:

  • Use a laptop or screen support to make sure that the screen is positioned correctly for the employee, so they adopt the best sitting posture
  • Use footrests when the feet cannot be rested flatly on the floor naturally
  • Use a palm rest when typing on a keyboard
  • Use the palm rest for the mouse to ensure that your hand, wrist and forearm are aligned.

Quality in the office environment

Understanding the relationship between employees and the workspace will help to promote the business case for increasing quality, health and environmental efficiency of spaces.

Quality means employee engagement in short and long term.

work_environmentHow are health and productivity really affected by working environment and office design?

  • The quality of indoor air and thermal comfort – Resolve this with: appropriate ventilation systems, air conditioning, maintenance, control of humidity levels and use of plants.
    Some of the advantages are health improvement –less sinusitis, flu and other breathing problems, fewer absences from work, less deterioration of office furniture, energy saving and less equipment damage.
  • Lighting – Resolve this with: use as much natural light as possible; fluorescent lamps produce less heat; white lights are better than yellowing lights.
    Your employees will suffer less visual fatigue, exhaustion, stress and headaches, so it means more productivity and fewer work absences, as well as energy savings.
  • Noise and acoustics – Resolve this with: : design silent areas to concentrate, provide technologies such as noise cancelling headphones, use of low panels, soundproofing meeting rooms.
    The office productivity becomes impossible if there are noises that cause unwanted distractions. This element can cause a decline in employee morale.
  • Interior distribution – Resolve this with:  create different working areas depending on the tasks.
    The interior configuration of the office, including the workspace and resting areas, is a factor that directly affects concentration, confidence and creativity.
  • Active design and exercise – Resolve this with:  provide additional facilities such as bicycle parking or green areas.
    Health can be improved through the practice of physical exercise, and, therefore, the active design of buildings and additional facilities can promote healthier lifestyles.

It’s important to have a good office design plan

An office design plan can improve overall productivity by reducing the amount of time that it takes for a worker to perform a task and allowing employees to easily communicate with each other.
For example, an open office makes it more convenient for an employee to talk to a co-worker compared to individuals in separate rooms, but there should also be individual working areas when employees need to concentrate wholly on a task.

office design planThe design of the workspace must allow workers to organise informal meetings. An office design can include empty conference rooms, so the staff can quickly meet, discuss and then return to work to carry on their individual tasks.
It also depends on the kind of job that we are talking about. A company can calculate how much open or closed space the employees need by considering the frequency of each task.
For instance, if a software programmer spends six hours a day individually programming and two hours in meetings, the company should give him/her a private working area.

In conclusion, an efficient office design is defined by the time and money saved by the employees and by how it streamlines workflow and processes.
Interior and exterior design can help to increase the productivity of your company through multiple tools, but this will only be achieved after a thorough study of your resources, your needs and your goals.
If the design of your office allows the employees to work effectively within their time constraints and becomes a definite benefit for your company, then it is a success.

CIPHRCIPHRFree HR news, resources and must-have white papers delivered straight into your inbox

Enter your email address to sign up now and stay informed: