Productivity at work is one of the ultimate goals in workplace strategy and design. There are a variety of factors that can have an influence on an employee’s performance and well-being at their workplaces.
Here are some key elements in workplace design that make your employees less or more productive.
1. Abundant lighting
While dim lighting can lower productivity, daylighting has been proved to enhance mood and morale, reduce fatigue (Robbins, 1986) and increase the quality of employee’s performance up to 15% (Edwards and Torcellini, 2002). A bright office with windows can uplift the mood and facilitate productivity. Therefore, it is ideal to prioritize natural daylight in office design, and combine different levels of lighting and colors as a substitute in case natural light is not available.
Apart from lighting, temperature is also a critical factor affecting employees at work. If the office is too cold or too hot, people will be distracted. However, there’s no certain temperature that satisfies everyone. Instead, let’s find a temperature that is acceptable to most of the team.
3. Indoor air quality
Office with poor indoor air quality is often associated with “Sick Building Syndrome”, which not only threatens comfort, well-being and productivity of the workforce but also leads to financial costs of healthcare and sick leaves. Especially in the presence of COVID-19, air quality is a crucial factor that prevents the spread of this virus. Workplace design should aim at keeping VOCs to an absolute minimum, addressing the necessity of air filtration systems by using high-tech HVAC systems, and installing more windows for natural ventilation.
4. Biophilic design strategy
Biophilic design concept is popular within office design that focuses on the connectivity to the natural environment through the contact with natural features. Research has found that creative problem-solving will increase by 50% when employees are exposed to nature. Office designers can fill the workspaces with biophilic elements, such as plants, natural lights, fresh air, natural landscape, to relax employees, and create a refreshing working environment.
5. Noise factor
One of the biggest reasons for distractions in the office is noise. Researchers from the University of Berkeley found that 64% of employees were dissatisfied by the phone conversations of colleagues, and 76% found distracted by overhearing private conversations. Low-frequency and constant background noise can cause disruption in learning, and increase fatigue and stress. In the office layout, quiet zones and focus rooms are critical to enhance productivity at work.
Ergonomics is the process of assessing and modifying the workstation arrangement and systems to fit the workers, not the other way around. While colours, flow of spaces, or materials affect the emotions, ergonomics prioritize the physical comfort that affects mental well-being. A study from the Journal of Public Affairs, Administration and Management showed that male employees are highly affected by office furniture, and spatial arrangement of office furniture is important to productivity. Therefore, workspace design should consider the variety of office furniture and shapes to foster human interaction and prevent injuries.
7. Empower with personalization workspace
A culture of high performance in the office starts with giving employees enough freedom to personalize their work stations, arrange the storage to their preferences, and optimize the comfort level. A study from Purdue University indicated that having individual control of workspace can improve productivity and engagement.