WORKPLACE design has a big influence on the quality and speed of the work of people, even if they are not aware of it.
Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialist company Giant Leap, said: “Studies examining productivity at work have shown that the physical space in which people work has the most impact on their ability to focus to get work done.
“In addition, improving workplace design can increase worker productivity by 20 to 30 percent,” she said.
Tips to make workspaces more conducive:
Be colour clever
Different colours have different effects on how people feel. “For example, yellow has a relaxing effect, while blue has been proven to result in increased productivity and to create the impression of professionalism,” Trim said.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the walls in your office should be blue, but it won’t hurt to include blue in your overall colour scheme.
“Unfortunately, when most offices are designed, light is one of the last things to be considered. This is why many office spaces are lit with harsh fluorescent lighting,” she said. The results of bad lighting can be headaches, difficulty with visibility and poor mood. It is best to try to get bulbs that mimic natural lighting and provide each work area with its own source of light that can be adjusted for both brightness and placement. If possible, encourage open blinds to let in natural light.
The recent trend towards open plan workplace design makes it tricky to block out other peoples’ noise. Trim said: “While this design may be budget friendly, it certainly isn’t conducive to productivity. If the budget won’t allow everyone enclosed workspace, consider adding a few private work areas for people with tasks that require a lot of focus.”
Poor air quality can result in stale air that creates a stuffy work environment, but it can be particularly hard for people who are asthmatic or prone to upper respiratory infections. “Poor air is also directly attributed to increased sick leave and lower levels of productivity,’” she said. Fans, air filters and open windows can help. If windows cannot be opened, then an air filtration system could be considered. Live plants are a good a way to clean the air and produce oxygen.
Customise for individuals
One of the most important considerations when designing a company work environment is providing tables and chairs that are comfortable for everybody in the office. “Of course, the only way to accomplish this is to provide adjustable chairs to accommodate personal preferences and varying heights. If possible, also provide desks or tables that can be adjusted for height and allow employees to have a say in how their workstations are configured,” said Trim.
Too much clutter creates a kind of visual pollution that many people find distracting, making it near impossible for some people to work productively. In a workplace with many people clutter can also create resentment towards messy people from those who are tidy. “Problems with clutter can be mitigated with policy, but it is important to provide people with plenty of storage space,” she said.
Different work areas for productivity and morale
There is no one workspace that is appropriate for every task. “It is, therefore, a good idea to provide a variety of work areas. It will help for an office to have a couple of open areas with big tables for collaborations, a few smaller enclosed conference rooms and quiet work areas. Adding a few colourful couches is morale-boosting and great for less formal chats,” Trim said.
Linda Trim is a director at Giant Leap, a workplace design specialist company.