You need more than sleep pods and gallons of free coffee to keep employees happy, engaged and productive today. Smart organizations realize that they have to design office spaces that foster collaboration and promote focus amongst the employees to ensure a positive productivity impact. A research conducted by Gensler on workplace and productivity demonstrates the importance of the physical environment and the impact that it has on the employees. We are not suggesting that you build a spaceship office space like Apple, stack employees in mile long rooms like Facebook or build vast public spaces sandwiched between work floors where people can mingle and collaborate like Samsung – but, giving your office design a thought is always a good idea. By incorporating some simple design principles you can transform your office into a productive workspace. Here is how –
Employees complaining of your office being too hot/cold?
When considering an office space give due importance to the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system. After all, one of the most common complaints amongst employees is that of the office temperature. While it’s hard to individualize temperature, a Cornell study revealed that an increase in office temperature from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit slowed typing errors by 44% and increased typing output by 150%!
Since the days of florescent lighting are over, say hello to some stellar lighting solutions that not only boost productivity but are easy on the pocket as well. Every workspace should ideally receive some amount of natural light. If that’s not a feasible option, look at creating common spaces that have some access to natural light. Also, personalizing the lighting according to the job role can be of immense help. For example, an accountant who spends most of his time pouring over spreadsheets will need slightly stringer lighting than a manager or a knowledge worker.
Office layout – Open or Closed?
The trend today is of collaboration and your office space must enable that – we know open offices have come under the productivity police radar but considering the space crunch, this is the only viable option for some. A rig of executive offices surrounding a batch of cubicles is a thing of the past. Most open offices don’t work because very little thought goes into planning the layout. Open offices have to be designed with the kind of work people do and those also need to offer some semblance of privacy. Low work station panels or having designated work areas or creating nooks are just some of the ways to incorporate efficient design into your office architecture. Building glass-walled conference rooms directly in busy common areas also help in keeping the mind alert.
Also ensure that the office space is not too crowded since crowding leads to a decline in performance, especially in complex tasks. Workstations that are positioned to have more views of the windows and not of other workstations can also help.
Noise can be a big productivity killer and while its ramifications are dependent on the individual, providing a choice of environment by creating ‘quiet areas’ can be of help. Providing noise cancellation headphones or seating employees who work in a similar way together are some solutions to the noise problem.
There can be some generalizations that can be made regarding sensory stimulation and productivity. Just like very dull spaces can make the workforce feel dull, spaces screaming with color can also be counterproductive. Use color strategically to promote certain moods:
- Bright colors (such as red) – are associated with accuracy and focus
- Blue – is associated with a calming effect
- Red – is associated with a feeling of strength and energy
- Yellow – is associated with alertness
- Orange – is associated with a boost in self-esteem and enthusiasm
Along with the color, consider the smell of your workplace too. A researchconducted by Takasago, one of Japans leading fragrance producers, on how smells affect the accuracy of typists, found that 54% made fewer errors when they could smell lemon, 33% fewer with jasmine and 20% fewer with lavender. Air freshener anyone?
Apart from all of these, making small changes such as keeping the desk free of clutter, having pads or white boards for idea storage, bringing a green element such as a potted plant and ergonomically designed furniture can all contribute substantially to office productivity. At the end of the day, to have an efficiently designed office, take the best ideas, put them in a kaleidoscope and turn them for new patterns, until you find what works for you!