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How Workplace Design Affects Productivity

Workplace Design Tips

Workplace design is a much referenced buzzword when it comes to tracking and improving employee productivity. If your business has an opportunity to renovate you may find yourself considering new layout options.

Although some 70 percent of all American offices have open floor plans, a significant body of research shows that bullpen-style spaces negatively affect employee productivity. This section is full of tips and tricks to help you evaluate the way your office space is set up and if it is conducive to productivity.

4 Ways Workplace Design Affects Productivity

1. Noise Distracts Everyone

Many millennials have grown up in high sensory environments. They learned how to multitask from a young age and have brought that skill into the workplace. That does not mean, however, that they are impervious to distractions. A study in cognitive control found that the more an individual multitasks, the more susceptible they are to interruptions. Furthermore, habitual multitaskers take more time to recover from distractions.

In an era of young companies and a millennial workforce, it is important to integrate quiet work spaces into your office design. Giving employees an option to work in a quiet, interruption-free area will allow them to maintain focus when it’s crunch time.

2. Employees Are More Productive with Privacy

Although it may seem intuitive that employees are more productive when their work habits are made public, studies show that lack of privacy is often viewed as a significant problem. Not only are employees often uneasy when always under the scrutiny of their peers, but the lack of architectural privacy can limit the exchange of ideas. A 2011 article in the Harvard Business Review concluded that “employees in open-plan spaces, knowing that they may be overheard or interrupted, have shorter and more-superficial discussions than they otherwise would.”

Privacy can also help stymie the spread of germs. One study found that employees working in open offices took 62 percent more sick days off of work than employees working in individual offices.

3. Give Your Employees Options and Control

By far the biggest workplace design factor in boosting productivity is giving employees the ability to control their own work environment. Providing staff with adjustable desks, options for lighting and temperature control, and variety in work rooms increases job satisfaction and team cohesion. Variations in work rooms can include private offices, conference rooms of different sizes, and collaborative tables.

Not all of these provisions are possible for each business. However, allowing your employees mobility when possible and the power to choose the environment they work in gives them the resources to maximize their productivity while at work.

4. The Revival of Working from Home

The final workplace redesign is allowing employees to telecommute. Working from home is also commonly considered to decrease productivity, however a 2014 study from the Harvard Business Review found that employees who were allowed to work from home were happier, less likely to quit, and more productive overall.

Not every household and not every job is conducive to quality work at home. But to the extent that one’s own home provides a quiet, private space with flexibility in environment, working from home can provide all of the critical components to increasing employee productivity.

Workplace and Color

Did you know that color affects mood? For your workplace, choose blues and greens if you want a calm atmosphere. However, keep in mind that if you have too much of blue and green, you may inhibit high energy needed to keep employees motivated throughout the day.

You can add a small amount of red, orange, or yellow in your workplace to increase energy flow and enhance your employees’ productivity. Keep in mind that an entire workplace filled with red can convey aggression and anger, while too much orange or yellow can create a lot of socializing.

Choose a good balance of these colors to convey the right amount of productivity. Additionally, choose the right colors for the right areas of your workplace. You don’t want to create too much energy in the wrong area, or a lack thereof, either.

Design Based on Departments

Every department is different and it’s important to address these differences when thinking of workplace design. If you want your employees to stay productive, think of how each department does their jobs and what they need to do them efficiently.

The best way to do this is to keep departments together. Your IT, Marketing, Sales, Accounting, etc. should all be grouped together in order to create an atmosphere of unity and productivity. If you separate even one team member from a department, you run the risk of that employee losing productivity.

Furthermore, make sure each department has what they need close by. If a department has to do a lot of printing, make sure their printer is close by. If team does a lot of stocking, make sure their supply room is in close range as well. Whatever the case may be, each department in a small business needs to be able to quickly access what makes their job more efficiently accomplished.  

Designing Your Workplace to Reflect Your Company Culture

Can your small business’s office design reflect the culture? You bet! How? Think of your culture as it is right now. Depending on what type of culture you have, you should model your workplace to reflect it.

If your small business’s culture has high energy, you’ll want to have a fun workplace to reflect this. Some ideas for this would be a couple arcade games in a room and a ping pong table, or maybe high energy music lightly playing to keep your employees full of energy.

For small businesses with a focused company culture, it’s important to have designated quiet areas where employees can go to concentrate and give their best work.

As you design your workplace, keep your company culture in mind. Because culture is such an important aspect of your small business, you want to continue to nurture it and make it a forte through effective workplace design.

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