A recent study from the World Building Council shows that there is a strong link between office design and staff productivity and happiness. In some ways, it's nothing new – we all know that our concentration and productivity drops when we feel uncomfortable, for example, if the temperature is too low or high, or if the room is resonating with random noise. However, there are more ways to use design and layouts to set up the best working environment possible. Here are the most effective tips.
Private vs. shared space
There's almost a decade-long debate which office arrangement provides better productivity – open plan or cubicles. The answer, however, might not be as straight as the question. Every office environment is different, with a unique role, size, and aims, so it's important to consider the pros of cons of both layouts on the individual level. The final choice will depend on the nature of your business and the type of business culture you're striving to create.
Take on cubicles
Closed cubicles once ruled large office floors and were synonymous with the modern office design. Ironically, cubicles were designed to put an end to open plan offices of the 1950s, when desks were all lined up and facing the same direction, like a school classroom. Then in the early 1960s, a new trend came that promoted worker autonomy and independence, and soon flexible three-walled designs that could be reshaped to any given need were created. However, business shortly realized that cubicles can be used to compress more people into a smaller space.
Take on open plan
Recent trends made open plan offices re-appear once again. The logic behind this is that employees will be happier if they can see one another and work together instead of being isolated in their little boxes. Open plan workspaces enable social interaction and make individuals feel less distant from the rest. Besides, it's often helpful for interns and less experienced team members to mingle with their colleagues with more experience.
Which is better for you?
A report from 2013 found that employees who worked in an open plan office weren't as happy as previous research pointed out. Their main complaint was the lack of privacy and increased distraction. On the other hand, the biggest complaint by cubicle workers was also the level of noise coming from the neighboring cubicles. The noise problem can be partially solved by using contemporary round rugs, which make the space less acoustic, while in open plan offices,rugs can be used to define individual zones while elevating the style of the entire workspace.
The color theory
It's known that different colors have different psychological effects and can subconsciously affect how people think or feel. Green has been associated with broader thinking and creative growth. An emotionally intensive color, red puts people in high-speed mode, with faster reactions and energetic boosts, however, in the long term, red reduces analytical thinking. On the other hand, blue is widely accepted as the most "productive" color, as its calming hues make people feel stable and content. Used in correctional facilities to diffuse aggressive behaviors, pink can be a great choice for board rooms, where discussions can get heated.
Windows and natural light
Even with numerous studies confirming the relationship between natural light and productivity, it remains an afterthought in most office environments. Apart from increasing productivity directly, natural light also improves the appearance of office plants, which in return lowers the workplace stress levels and increases productivity in that way, as well. Desks should be positioned so they receive a healthy amount of natural light. If you're stuck in a windowless space, use full-spectrum bulbs which simulate daylight, and chose ferns and spider plants which thrive well in artificial light.
Where's the boss?
If a boss sits with everybody else in an open plan office, he or she can hear everything the employees do. While this prospect can seem intimidating, it's the atmosphere in the office that matters. If the boss believes that employees are productive only when they are happy, he or she will try to create a workplace where everybody feels comfortable and communicates easily with one another. The question of whether the boss sits in the main room or keeps separate becomes less important if employees aren't afraid to approach him or her with their work-related issues, which can be solved instantly without delay.
Lately, office design has become open for many novelties, with brands and businesses almost competing for most innovative, creative, and playful workplaces. However, good office design should be both susceptible and resistant to passing trends, and above all inspire your employees while sending the right message to your clients.