How to Create a Productive Office Space?

12 mins read

How happy are you in your workplace? Your working environment has a significant impact on your ability to focus. Working in the right place can enhance your productivity and creativity. Better workplace environment and design can increase office productivity by up to 20%. However, only 13 percent of the global workforce is happy or engaged in the workplace. 

Productive Office Space
By Lisa Fotios/ Pexels

A dip in productivity is expected if you’re unhappy, and statistics say the same too.

  • 85% of employees are dissatisfied with their workplace.
  • Happy employees experience 31% higher productivity.
  • The average office worker loses 86 minutes a day.
  • Employees who report being happy at work take ten times fewer sick days.

Your office needs to make your employees feel comfortable and relaxed to make them be their best self.

The trick is to balance both the productivity and efficiency of employees, and that is easier said than done. Our guide can help you create the right office design that can help your employees do more.

The Top Ideas for a Productive Office Space

It all boils down to the little things. How do your employees feel about the environment they are working it? What do they think about their colleagues? How is the workflow communication? Often, a few simple tips can help. Let’s run through them.

Office Space
By Christina Morillo/Pexels

Check if Closed Cubicles are a Good Fit

The answer to whether you need one depends on your organization set up. Cubical office design first became popular in 1967, and most offices had one.

Then, it started to fall out of trend. For the past few years, people are debating between a cubical and open office design. If you want an answer as to which is better, here is the thing – they both have their worth.

A new study from the University of Sydney, Australia for instance, states that 60% of workers who are trapped in cubicles don’t enjoy the lack of sound privacy.

Another survey in Canada, Australia, the U.S, and Finland. done on 42,000 workers, stated that more than 30% of workers who don’t go to a private office were frustrated due to the a lack of visual privacy. Many of them complained they had an issue with sound privacy. 

Yet, while not many like cubicles, they do have some benefits –

  • Progress in opportunities- Many organizations believe cubicles allow workers to be next to each other, which helps in better overall opportunities. 
  • Better productivity- Some of the organizations also think that cubicles can lead to better productivity.
  • Good relationships with colleagues- Cubicles are an excellent way to improve network and relations among the co-workers as they work close to each other but not too close. 
  • The ability for personal expression- Offices also want to give an employee a free space for themselves. The cubical provides them with this space for some personal feeling.

Open Office 

In contrast to cubical office design, the open office brings you entirely free and open space. Since 2000, this layout has got more attention. Some corporate giants such as Google, American Express, and Facebook are also promoting it. We have already talked about how open space office designs work great when it comes to promoting productivity before. 

According to the New York Times, open office layouts make up roughly 70 percent of office environments today. Many in the corporate world believe that an open area gives them more opportunity to share their ideas and collaborating with others rather than a cubical box. 

The open office idea is exactly built around this concept, which is meant to increase collaboration among colleagues. Also, did we add that this office design costs less? Communication is going to be quick and simple.

It’s a nice idea, people feel free and not like grounded as a cubical box. However, this doesn’t guarantee better communication. So, apparently, there are cons to this place as well.

Cons of Open Office Design

  • Although open office design may be a good option to increase collaboration, it can also immensely increase distractions.
  • Workers get zero privacy. They are subjected to endless noise, conversations, and interruptions from their co-workers which eventually leads to decreased productivity.
  • According to one scientific study, workers in open office environments took 62% more sick leaves than workers who worked in a cubical office.

Role of Color in Office Design

A person’s brain activity much likely depends on what his eyes can see. So, what you see could either be soothing to you or may not. The problem is, your employees might not want to spend more time somewhere they are not comfortable in- which is a reason you need the right colors. 

You might want in to add in some colors to the office décor. However, do not overdo it. Your office work space shouldn’t look like a kids’ room. Instead, it needs to be charming enough to give a calming effect. 

Choose the correct combination according to your office needs, and it reduces stress, boosts creativity, and increases morale in your office.

A study from the University of Massachusetts also shows this impact of colors in office. It states that the color addition to your office can help employees in reducing stress, increasing creativity level and enhancing their morale. The study further found out that it also gives a hype in their admiration of diversity, and encourages them for various discussions. Employees are able to voice their opinions in the office better. 

Now, the office color theme can be chosen according to the industry’s need. You can use some specific hues in your office so that it improves positive brain functions, and lead to enhanced productivity at work. The artistic pieces do wonders and freshen up the mind; you can also mix them for increased enthusiasm and inspiration.

Effect of Lighting and Ventilation in Office

Perfect lightening and ventilation are important when it comes to keeping a lively atmosphere. It also saves both electricity and money. So, it is important to take special care of certain things before spending on lightening and ventilation. 

You should remember that your employees are spending 8 hours in your office, which takes most of their day time in the office. You need to ensure that they don’t feel tired – and a few strategies to bring in positive energy might be what you’re looking for.

Are you wondering how you can do that?

For one, the right lighting can help.

A recent study shows that keeping a good lightening and ventilation workspace decreases the number of absences of employees and it also increases satisfaction by 24%. This increases the productivity of up to 16% in an organization. Keep in mind a few things though to do better.

  • Take advantage of natural light. Use it as much as you can.
  • Choose the correct direction. Also, the color of the curtains should be the same that there can be maximum use of natural light.
  • Use eco-friendly lights so that it can save light and money as well. These lights not only save electricity but also reduce carbon. Since it runs for a long time, you don’t have to worry about changing lights all the time.

Effect of Comfortable Furniture in Office

Comfort is important in the workplace. An office employee spends more than half of their day in the office; if they don’t feel comfortable, it’s the loss of the company directly as there will be a gross decrease in productivity. 

A survey done on workspace through HOK reported that 82% of the employees don’t fare great when it comes to neck and back pain.  Shoulder pain is also common, perhaps due to the long sitting hours. It’s one thing that is sure to decrease their efficiency.

Most of the employees will be sitting for hours during their shift. You need a comfortable chair and desk to keep them healthy and efficient. 

Employees can sit for a long time without discomfort, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity. You will have to deal with fewer problems with aches and pains then.

Encourage Flexibility in Offices

office working space
By David/Pexels

Did you know that sometimes, being lazy might just be a great way to be more productive? Helping employees choose how they want to work, can go a long way in that direction.

Flexibility is one of the essential needs of offices as it lifts the unnecessary burden and results in highly valued outcomes. According to research done by employees of HSBC UK, 9 out of 10 employees consider flexible working as the biggest as their biggest motivator. The employees feel that they could do more if they had more say on what they should be doing. 

It is found useful in improving the productivity and efficiency of any business if implemented and used positively. The flexible working culture of the offices is most beneficial to female employees. With this, they are efficiently maintaining the right balance between their professional life and family life.

Amanda Murphy, the HSBC Head of Commercial Banking in the United Kingdom (UK) once said that he prefers to look more at how flexible the work place is than just the financial incentives. 

Flexibility at the workplace is a great indicator for a more productive workplace.

office working space
By Visual Tag Mx/ Pexels

Temperature Management in Office

How hot is your office during the summers? You might not have considered this fact. It’s important though, as it affects the office productivity majorly. Studies show that temperature over 90F decreases office productivity. However, male and females react differently to the temperature. 

In summers, the temperature is low all day long in office, Women have lower metabolic rates than men and tend to have more body fat in this case. If your office is having a large number of women, you must be more careful about temperature.

Here are the acceptable operating temperatures that should be followed in a different climate according to the humidity.

Temperature/Humidity Ranges for Comfort

Weather Relative humidity Office Operating temperature
Summer (Light clothing) If it is 30%
If it is 60% 
24.5 – 28 °C will be acceptable
23 – 25.5 °C will be acceptable
Winter (Warm clothing) If it is 30%
If it is 60% 
20.5 – 25.5 °C will be acceptable
20 – 24 °C will be acceptable

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety – Adapted from ASHRAE 55-2010.

Room Scent in Office

Did you know that room scent in an office can be a good factor to increase productivity? No, we aren’t just making it up. Here are some stats that add to it as well.

  • Rachel Herz, an assistant Professor of psychology at Brown University in the USA, states that fragrance can have a great impact on people’s mood, it naturally affects our thinking and action. If we have a pleasant scent, we will be in a positive frame of mind, and we will show a higher level of creatively compared to when we are in a bad mood. 
  • Some Japanese studies show that employees who work in the presence of a pleasant-smelling air freshener, have an increased level of confidence. They are more likely to give increased productivity with creativity which is unlikely when they are in a place of no fragrance.

Which Scents Or Fragrance Increase Productivity?

Staff productivity depends on scents but not all of them, so you should choose them wisely. Some of the scents which can be used for office productivity are-

  • Rosemary, as it helps in clear thinking and increases energy.
  • Citrus – It doesn’t let the workers exhaust soon as it fights with mental stress, lemon fragrance inspires while the orange reduces stress.
  • Lavender reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Peppermint- It is another flavor to improve energy, refresh up the mood and aid conditions as well.
  • Cinnamon– It helps in fighting with mental fatigue and also improving concentration.

Add Greenery to Office

Believe it or not, humans have an intrinsic connection to nature. Nature creates a great impact on the health and mind of a person. It’s why adding plants to the workplace is always a good idea. 

Plants, in offices, can help in reducing employe stress, anxiety, and fatigue. A report of the new University of Technology, Sydney found that the addition of plants at the workplace has dropped the level of fatigue and anxiety, depression or dejection, and anger and hostility by 37%, 58%, and 44% respectively. 

Not only this, the University of Exeter’s research says that the employees’ productivity jumps 15% when they work in the environment filled with houseplants. Apart from this, the greenery at the offices reduces mental sickness and absence rate by boosting a clean and healthy environment. 

Importance of Refreshment Breaks mentions that “stress at the workplace is an epidemic.” This is entirely true as it is found that half of the total population of workers suffers from some mind of stress. Due to this stress, the employees yield in lost or poor productivity, encounters with a higher number of errors, and faces interpersonal conflicts. Stress hinders the morale of the employees. 

However, the stress and pressure of work can be easily handled with a short coffee break. Step out of your place, rejoice yourself in the chill environment and give 15 minutes to your brain to relax.

Coffee is a highly recommended drink in the offices. It contains caffeine, which increases the hormone levels of the body. Increased hormonal level boosts the mood, energy level, and cognitive performance. Those who are not interested in having a coffee can go for tea, water, energy drinks or probiotic drinks, as the alternatives as the main focus of refreshment are not coffee, it is recharging your mind again. 

Organize The People And Resources Well

Good organization and resources are some of the more challenging tasks when it comes to creating a productive office space. No matter how big a company is, all of them have a limited number of assets, and they are required to be used wisely. 

Employees are the most significant resources of the company. It’s why you need to organize the workflow at the offices properly, to help achieve maximum productivity. Some of the key things which should be kept in mind while doing this are: 

  • Empower People to Make Decisions: Decision making is a tricky task, and everyone doesn’t have the capability of making decisions. The business should look for a special and experienced team who can take productive decisions. 
  • Strategic Planning is the Key: The senior official should always pay a check on the workflow. They should prepare a robust backup plant to tackle all kind of problems. Also, the things should be planned in a strategic way such that none of their resources is getting waste. 
  • Focus on Smartness: Once a wise man said that skills could be developed but smartness can’t. So, while hiring the team, look for smartness instead of skills. 
  • Seniority Is Evil: Not every organization needs a hierarchy. Note if yours does. The team, preferably, should be organized in so that colleages have mutual respect for each other. Focus more on merit. 

Different Spaces For Different Stuff

Assigning different spaces to different stuff and activities is quite necessary. An office should have a distinguished reception area, pantry, meeting room, work space, at a minimum, while the companies can also look to create different spaces for different designations too. Also, the office needs to be equipped with a separate space or cabin for the boss, as it helps in maintaining the integrity. 

Air Quality

Did you know that indoor air quality can be significantly worse than that of outside? Maintaining indoor air quality and hygienic environment is quite necessary for the organizations as the poor sanitary, and air quality can lower your ability to thinking and focus drastically. Buy in an air purifier, if you need.

 According to OSHA reports, it cost $15 billion to the employer per year, due to the poor air quality in the offices. This happens due to the worker’s inefficiency during the work and leaves caused by health issues. Employers should look to lease or built their offices in such places that the fresh and filtered air can pass through the windows or doors easily. 

Noise Level In Office

The noise level in your office is another important factor that you need to consider for your office designs. The noise factor majorly depends on the size of your team, office design, outer area and the culture of your company. It not only a distracting factor but it also raises the stress level and decreased team productivity. 

Take Away

Through all these facts, stats and cures here are one thing you need to know – well-designed office space is not an option, but a requirement. It’s what you need for a successful and growing business. This not only inspires your workers for their work but it also brings the best performance of your employees.  While other things matter, like how you streamline the work flow, the office décor is important too. 

For instance, there are some things you definitely do not want when you’re running a business. One of them is tedious paperwork. Filling out all the minute details of how your business works can take up a lot of time and you would do well to avoid that.

 The other thing that you would like to avoid is the time you need for invoicing clients. Quoting proposals and managing clients can take up a significant amount of time too. You need to take a look at how to make your work simpler so that employees will love to work with you. Go for a proposal software, if you like. Or, take a look at some of our productivity tips

The best part is, this all happens to keep your employees happy. They, in turn, return a loyalty towards the company. Improving your office design isn’t something you should look as an expenditure gone bad. It’s what you need to get better performance, and is surely cost effective.

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