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Does office layout affect productivity?

April 3, 2017

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

Many studies have shown that the environment employees work in does have an effect on their productivity.  From wall colors, to furniture, to technology, to office layout…it all makes a difference.   A recent study from the architecture firm, Gensler, found that there is evidence that links workplace performance to office design.

“We’ve proven that design not only influences the innovative process, but also that, done correctly, design has the power to drive new innovation forward in a direct and measurable way,” states Gensler.  Office design should boost productivity and encourage innovation.  They say that there are four key “work modes” that are necessary to achieve productivity and innovation.  They are focus, collaboration, learning, and socializing.

With all the new open workspace environments, employees are lacking space to truly focus for long periods of time.  A study by Bassex revealed that the average employee spends 28% of their time dealing with unnecessary interruptions.  Ways to resolve this include offering private work areas that employees can utilize when they need to focus for a period of time, utilize acoustic sound-absorbing materials for wall dividers and furniture, and consider surveying employees periodically to see where  private areas are needed.

97% of employees and executives believe lack of team collaboration can negatively impact the outcome of a project.  To encourage collaboration, create small spaces in the office for impromptu meetings.  Perhaps two chairs with an end table or small conference areas for 3-5 people.  Collaboration is important and the lack of it can affect the bottom line, company culture, and turnover.

Today’s competitive workplace requires employees to consistently be honing their skills and learning new updated systems.  Ideally space should be provided within the office to accomplish this.  Provide both formal and informal training areas.  

Socializing is an important aspect to a healthy work culture.  To avoid burnout, employees should take breaks and converse with colleagues both within and outside of their department.  Provide flexible seating areas in a designated lounge area.  Encourage staff to drop by to say hello to a teammate from time to time.  A five-minute chat won’t hurt productivity and may energize employees to actually be more productive.

Some other fun ways to create a positive work environment include lighting, plants, wall color, comfortable office chairs, etc.  A survey by revealed that respondents who say their office furniture is “bad” are three times more likely to feel unproductive and two times more likely to say their office is “depressing.”  In addition, 40% of respondents stated that lighting is the most important factor to an office environment.  Respondents who claim their office has a lot of natural light are 48% more likely to describe their office as “uplifting,” 35% are likely to be more productive, and 28% are more likely to feel comfortable.  Respondents claiming the lighting is poor are three times more likely to say it negatively impacts their performance and two times more likely to describe their office as depressing.  And finally, plants can help to create a positive work environment.  85% of respondents say they feel more productive if plants are in the office and 36% feel uplifted.

How does your office environment rate? Consider asking your employees.  Even making a few small changes could make a big difference in employee satisfaction and productivity. 

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