Does office space have an impact on an organization and its people? A report by World Green Building Council indicates that there is a significant relationship between productivity and office design. Modest improvements to indoor air quality can boost productivity by between 8 to 11%. Another research conducted in 2016 by the same body shows that distracting noise can reduce staff performance by up to 66%

With the above in mind, it is important to have an office design that supports the best working environment, one that makes employees relaxed, comfortable, and productive. Experts agree that a perfect office should have a diverse array of workspaces, meeting rooms, stand up desks, quiet zones, and space for active movement within the office. Over the recent past, there has been an increased focus on office aesthetics with a majority of media outlets glamorizing cool office setups. The battle for the coolest office space might have gotten out of hand. Nevertheless, it does not underscore the benefits of having a proper office space. This guide provides a deep dive into how to create the perfect space to boost productivity. 

Why Designing a Good Office Matters

While technology has an influence on the way people conduct business in the digital era age, an office still plays a crucial role in most organizations. It has a direct influence on two of your most valuable assets; people and property. Employees are the biggest asset an organization has. In some sectors such as the service industry, employees contribute to business competitiveness. Your employees work hard to build the organization, so it makes much sense to ensure they do so in a space that makes them comfortable. In most cases, the office is where a majority of staff spend most of their time. Uninspiring old and noisy cubicles without a direct source of light have a negative impact not only on productivity but also the health and emotional well-being of employees. Prospective talent will research your organization to have a clue about how it would be to work in your organization. There is a risk of losing out on top talent. These professionals may lose interest in your organization if they feel the office space will not support them deliver their best. 

Apart from the staff, your clients and partners have expectations. You need to live up to the promise. Some prospective clients generate their first impression based on the appearance of your office. Make sure yours matches the message you are sending out. Your office space should reflect your values and support a purpose-driven culture, for instance, having an office that values a work-life balance for employees. If your culture put more emphasis on teamwork, then your office space should feature a design that allows for collaboration. Likewise, if creativity is a priority, your office should inspire the same.

Take Control to Design a Perfect Office Space to Boost Staff Productivity

There is no straightforward answer to what is considered the best office space. Each office environment features a unique role, size, and goal. One area that has generated a lot of debate is closed cubicles versus open plan. The latest trend, where office spaces discourage isolations and allow for more interaction, seems to favor an open environment. With that said, there are employees who feel that an open-plan take away their privacy, which might cause dissatisfaction at work. 

Every workplace is made up of different personalities, so it essential to take into considerations what work best for both introverts and extroverts to create a thriving workplace. While there is ambiguity surrounding what is described as best offices space, there are several aspects of office space that have proven to boost productivity levels. 

Windows and Lighting

There is a significant relationship between good performance and lighting. Unfortunately, most office environments give little priority to this aspect. In one study published in Psychology Today, researchers found out that offices with windows have a significant impact on productivity in the workplace. Daylight exposure boosts the sleep and quality of life of workers. On top of this, natural light enhances the growth of office plants. The present of office plants has been found to lower workplace stress. 

As you design your office space, pay attention to the amount of natural light that gets to the office and if there are ways of improving the flow of natural light. One way to optimize on natural light is to position your desks to the source of light. If you have minimal natural light flow or operating in a windowless space, consider using artificial lighting that mimics natural lighting. To achieve this, use spectrum bulbs to keep the light warm and soft. Using spotlights may be a good option. 

Other options you can use to compensate for the lack of direct natural light are using reflective furniture and growing plants. Spider or ferns are good options since they do well in low light.

Indoor Air Quality & Thermal Comfort

There are notable benefits to having a well-ventilated office. Low levels of pollutants and carbon dioxide improve productivity and well-being of staff. Reduce pollutants at source rather than just diluting them. Strategies that might help to minimize the concentration of pollutants are setting up exhaust ventilation on photocopy and printing rooms and using zero to low emission carpets. Natural ventilation is the best way to provide fresh air. You can complement this with air conditioning. Ceiling heights influence the natural ventilation and temperature gradient. The greater the height, the bigger the space available for the temperature gradient, which has a positive impact on both low-level air supply and natural ventilation. 

Thermal comfort is one of the hottest topics in the workplace. There are differences in individuals consider as too low or too hot. The surrounding surface temperature, air temperature, humidity, and airspeed make up the thermal environment. People’s perception of thermal comfort is, therefore, influenced by clothing, metabolic rate, and personal preference. Taking this issue into consideration, personal control over thermal comfort is important.

Interior Layout

For the interior, there are many issues you need to consider to boost productivity. These include the density and configurations of workstations, social space, and breakout space among others. These factors affect creativity, confidentiality, and collaborations at the workplace. Increasing workspace in terms of the ratio of desks to occupants and square meters is a growing trend in most western workspaces. This has not been adopted in the workplace culture in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. Density may be harmful to productivity and well-being of staff if they feel they lack personal space. 

Another area that relates closely to interior layout is noise distractions. In today knowledge-based office setting, noise can provide an unnecessary distraction, which inhibits productivity. In fact, one of the top causes of dissatisfaction in the workplace is noise. Good acoustic are essential if you want a conducive working environment.

Background sound is necessary to counter distraction. For instance, in an open office plan, foreground noise is expected, so a background sound level of 45dBA is often used. Note that not all sound is noise; otherwise, the office will be too quiet.  The ‘look and feel’ also has a potential of boosting the bottom line since it has a positive impact on the mindset and well being of both the visitors and the occupiers. Bearing in mind that ‘look and feel’ is highly subjective, people of different gender, age, and culture will most likely experience it differently.

Include Tools that Help Staff Work (or relax)

If your workspace is focused on personal productivity or creativity, consider adding tools such as interactive smart boards, mobile whiteboards, charging ports, and ergonomic tools for tablets and laptops. If your workplace culture values fun and celebrations, consider adding fun games, a drink station, a dartboard or even a small basketball hoop. These additions might inspire creativity. 

Conclusion

Make sure you have everyone on board as you embark on setting up a perfect office space. Here, the most important stakeholders are your staff. Before making any changes, let them give you their input. For instance, do they like space where they will collaborate? Do they prefer having an area to relax? By asking such questions, you will not only create a balanced office space but also a personalized one. Also, put trust in the occupiers by including personal control over the working environment, for instance, regulating indoor temperature. By considering all these, you will soon notice remarkable improvements in employee satisfaction and productivity.

Photo Credits: eOffice

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