Staff productivity is integral to any business, with high levels of productivity associated with greater efficiency, better business operations, and – ultimately – greater revenue for the business. Much has been theorised regarding what business owners can do to increase staff productivity, with a variety of solutions often presented – but the importance of effective office design is often overlooked.
This is somewhat surprising, given that environment is an undeniably a crucial consideration. Staff will spend upwards of seven hours a day in the office, so it’s vital to ensure that the space is as conducive to high productivity levels as possible. If you are planning an office fitout in the near future, then incorporating productivity into your plans could greatly benefit your business in future. Below, we’ve put together a number of ideas you may wish to consider if you’re looking to boost staff productivity as you plan your next fitout.
#1 – Leave room for nature
Research suggests that focusing on including “natural” touches to your office genuinely can help to boost productivity. Texas A&M University ran a study that found that workers in a room with two potted plants and a bouquet of flowers generated 13% more ideas than workers in a room with only a sculpture.
The best way to do this is to ensure you leave space in your overall design for natural elements. Office plants and shrubs are used in a great number of offices, but often introduced as an afterthought, which means these elements are often not integrated as well as they could be. If you design the entire layout with specific areas reserved for plants, shrubs, or flowers, the overall impact of your chosen greenery should be far more effective, helping to boost staff productivity and improve the aesthetic of the entire office space.
#2 – Include private spaces
For many years now, office fitout trends have leaned towards wide, open-plan spaces that are able to encourage practices such as hotdesking. Unfortunately, this trend is not particularly beneficial in terms of productivity; employees can distract one another, and workers may find it more difficult to focus due to the general noise that open-plan offices tend to generate. In fact, a University of Sydney study found that a lack of so-called “sound privacy” was the most significant drain on employee morale across all types of office layouts. Given that employee morale is intrinsically linked to productivity, this is undoubtedly concerning.
Thankfully, there is a relatively simple way those undertaking office fitouts can seek to overcome the issue: the inclusion of private spaces. You could, for example, opt for a large open-plan area, but then include private spaces where employees can work in peace when required.
#3 – Consider ways to reduce noise
Private spaces are useful for helping to reduce overall noise levels for employees at certain times, but no office fitout can consist solely of private spaces. As a result, it’s also important to explore various methods of reducing noise levels in the more open areas of your office.
In truth, many of the noisy elements of an office are difficult to control; air conditioners will always whir in the background and staff need to be able to talk with one another. However, there is one consideration that you can control: the types of surfaces used in communal, open-plan office areas. You can opt for softer, sound-absorbing surfaces, fabrics, wall art, and potentially even drop ceilings wherever possible to keep sound to a minimum in busier areas. With the sound level controlled, you should subsequently see an immediate productivity boost in all workers.
#4 – Make the most of natural light
When planning your fitout, natural light should be one of your key considerations. Natural light is far more influential on how people act and feel than most people believe, and utilising the mood-boosting abilities of natural light can make a real difference to productivity in your office. Wherever possible, plan your fitout to ensure that the main office windows are kept clear of obstructions, and – if suitable for your building – consider adding a skylight, too.
Furthermore, if you’re designing private offices as part of your fitout, try to ensure each office has its own window; a study at Northwestern University found workers located in offices without windows had poorer outcomes for sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and daytime dysfunction when compared to those who worked in offices with windows. Given that a well-rested employee is far more likely to be a productive employee, windows in private offices are a must-have.
#5 – Focus on providing visual stimulation for workers
Offices, by their very nature, are not particularly interesting spaces – they are, after all, focused on the core operations of the business. However, a lack of interesting visual stimulation can have a negative impact on employees, and one that ultimately reduces their ability to work at their best.
There are a variety of different ways you can add visual stimulation to your office space. The most commonly used is artwork, but also consider colours, textures, and different materials – such as wood – in order to create an office that looks, simply put, more interesting. You should find that a livelier space creates livelier, more engaged employees, which in turn helps to boost overall productivity and morale.
#6 – Focus on comfort when choosing furniture
When thinking about boosting productivity, it’s often helpful to rephrase the matter somewhat, and ask what hinders productivity. For example, in what circumstances might your employees find it difficult to focus and achieve the best work rate?
The obvious answers to this question have been given with the ideas covered above, but there is one final consideration: discomfort. If workers are physically uncomfortable, then they will be less able to focus on the task at hand. Comfort may not seem like a huge direct influence on productivity, but given that discomfort will harm productivity, there are advantages to be gained from ensuring your new office fitout is as comfortable as possible.
By far the best way to achieve this focus on comfort is to examine the setup of each employee’s desk and, in particular, seating arrangements. In particular, it’s important to opt for furniture that is adjustable, so workers can customise their workstation to suit their specific needs.
#7 – Use colours carefully
We have touched on the importance of colours in terms of the visual stimulation they are able to provide, but it’s also useful to think of colour in terms of its influence on mood. Numerous studies have concluded that colour directly influences human emotions and well-being, so the colours used throughout your office fitout should be considered carefully.
In doing so, arguably the most important consideration is the fact that you do need colour. Beige, neutral colour schemes are unlikely to be the best choice for your office; in fact, some studies have indicated these bland colours can increase feelings of depression and sadness, even in workers who may otherwise be doing well. It’s therefore far preferable to use bright colours that offer an element of vibrancy, making the office feel like an exciting and dynamic place to be.
With a beige colour scheme abandoned, you can then consider which colour might be right for your business. Blue, for example, is an excellent colour for offices; it is associated with calmness and, of course, productivity. Green and orange can also help to boost productivity and vibrancy. On the flip side, some colours – such as red and purple – can increase stress levels in workers, and are thus best avoided.
With the ideas above, you can be sure that your office fitout not only looks the part but is also capable of greatly enhancing overall staff morale and productivity – much to the benefit of your business as a whole.