For as long as there has been business, there’s been people trying to figure out how to make it more productive. More employees, more equipment, and faster technology all contribute to how much a company can produce from a logistic and structural standpoint. Recently, however, a rising number of studies has been focusing on how productivity looks- the aesthetics of it. And by that, I don’t mean what Ronda from Sales is wearing. That’s another blog.
These studies are breaking down all types of workplace environments, analyzing everything from the placement of the printer to the color of the front door – all in an attempt to describe the effects these factors have on the psychological and physiological aspects behind productivity. You could argue that just about everything about an office effects its employee’s ability to work in some way or another, and companies around the world are pouring millions of dollars into designing workplaces that encourage focus, creativity, and happiness.
One of the most important, and highly controversial, conversations in designing an office space is the type of equipment you buy and where you put that equipment. Equipment, being anything from a copier to a cafeteria table, decides how people move about the office and how they interact with each other. Open office designs have been popular of late, removing the seclusion of individual cubicles and replacing it with benching style workstations that physically bring employee’s closer, favoring collaboration over privacy. While this blog won’t attempt to argue for a particular side, it will say that balance is usually effective in anything in life. Studies have shown that providing employees with different spaces to work, whether that be a lounge area with bean bag chairs and a whiteboard or a soundproof room to focus by yourself, allow employees to more effectively accomplish different tasks in a variety of environments.
The layout of the office not only refers to the large furniture and general structure of the office, but the little things that make up the rest of the space as well. Art, plants, and other personalized décor livens up the office and gives your eyes somewhere to rest besides on a computer screen. With employees spending more and more time at the office, just giving them somewhere else to go could help refocus, energize, and motivate them to higher levels of productivity.
If your office walls are a drab grey, an off-white, or a melancholy beige, grab a paintbrush right now. Something as simple as the color scheme of your office (if there is any scheme at all), could be inhibiting your employee’s psychological effectiveness.
Low wave-length colors such as forest greens or ocean blues, common in Mother Nature’s palette have been proven to enhance employees’ efficiency and focus, as well as their overall sense of well-being. Be careful, though. Get the wrong shade of green and you could be enhancing their chances of feeling sick instead!
One of the favorites of researchers is “mellow yellow.” This magic color has been associated with the energetic and fresh shade of optimism, while also inspiring innovation and creativity. Attention: Artists, writers, and any other creative professionals, swing by your local hardware store and dump a bucket of mellow yellow on your office wall! It may inspire greatness.
Red, a high-wavelength, active color, is good for intense, passionate, and even alarming environments. So unless you’re a firefighter, I think we can save red for bedroom.
Now that your office looks beautiful, don’t expose it to harsh fluorescent lights or stuff it away in dark, windowless dungeons. Studies have shown a 15% reduction in absenteeism, as well as, a 20% increase in productivity when lighting is at optimum levels. So pull back the shades, yank up the blinds, and let the natural sunlight filter into the office. The simple act of seeing and feeling sunlight, allows people to connect with nature and see the time of day change, both contributing to an overall sense of wellness which encourages productive activity.
If natural sunlight isn’t an option though, go get some daylight color balanced, high-powered CFL bulbs, which are designed to mimic sunlight as close as possible. Even with something as small as changing a lightbulb, it could mean big differences in employee productivity.
What you see while you work is not the only factor that effects how you work. What you hear is equally as important and could be even more debilitating if handled incorrectly. Office acoustics are born from layout, policy, and culture and getting the right combination of these three can significantly advance employee satisfaction, as well as, overall company productivity.
Employees have different preferences when it comes to noise control. One might work better blasting Metallica at his desk, while another might need complete silence to get work done. A popular solution is playing an agreed-upon playlist from a central area in the office. A low level of different kinds of music can energize the office and help people who need noise, stay focused. For companies that have adopted an open-layout workspace, the almost complete annihilation of speech privacy is the largest collateral damage according to employee surveys. While some decide on gluing headphones into their ears, essentially negating the purpose of an open-layout, it might be wise to have separate, private spaces for people to talk with clients or with co-workers.
Managing how sound travels around the office is a key component to preserving workflow. While every company is different, and requires different levels of sound, considering the layout, your company policies, and the office culture, is a good start to attaining the perfect acoustical comfort for optimum productivity.
How your office looks and feels is a vital part in creating a company, as well as, maintaining happy employees and successful business practices. These simple factors can drastically improve productivity within any office space, while also drawing new, young talent to a place they want to be at and strive in.
As the old saying goes: look good, feel good, play good.
P.s. I suggest a desk lava lamp. It provides light, warmth, and entertainment. It’s a great morale booster for any work environment.