Low productivity is a common problem that a lot of business owners share. What can easily be overlooked, though, is the fact that most of the time, the real culprit lies in the work environment more than the actual performance of the employee themselves.
Hence, allow us to provide you with an overview of how workplace design impacts productivity levels as well as how to improve your current setup and achieve better work efficiency.
Are you familiar with the psychology of colors? In a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, it is explored how certain colors directly affect psychological functioning including mood, focus, and mental clarity.
For instance, warm colors such as red and orange can lead to excitement and dominance. This explains why there are a huge number of brands that have chosen it as their representation. Coca Cola, Netflix, and CNN are just a few that can automatically come into mind among the countless more worldwide.
Black and other darker achromatic hues, on the other hand, can trigger aggressive or competitive behavior, thus explains why there are a lot of sports brands like Nike and Adidas who sport black.
The same applies to your choice of interior colors too. Blue and white, in particular, can illicit productivity, focus, and calm. Meanwhile, purple and yellow are said to help in creativity and inspiration. Just make sure that your chosen color palette won’t result in overstimulation and visual distraction.
Speaking of distraction, noise can also be a huge issue. After all, a certain level of silence is ideal to process one’s thoughts. It can also result in unnecessary stress and pressure.
While it can be difficult to control office chatter depending on the established company culture, there are certain elements that you can influence.
Here are just some ideas to reduce your office’s noise levels:
• Consider replacing your office gear. Computer peripherals, particularly keyboards, can be replaced with ergonomic pieces that don’t only reduce the clattering of keys but can also prevent carpal tunnel.
• Install a carpet. There are a lot of flooring choices that can minimize noise levels, however, installing a carpet remains to be the simplest solution to control noise from heavy foot traffic.
• Install sound-absorbing fixtures. Aside from changing your office flooring, you can also consider installing acoustic ceiling clouds. These are fixtures specifically designed to hang from the ceiling to reduce noise levels and manage sound reverberations. Acoustic wall panels are a good alternative as well for offices with low ceilings. Consider getting them in your stimulating colors as we have discussed above to maximize their influence in your workplace productivity.
• Play music or ambient sounds. Finally, you can also opt to mask existing sounds by playing music in the background. We recommend instrumentals since lyrics can also prove to be a distraction (and can even encourage people to sing along and create more noise). Ambient sounds are also said to boost concentration and productivity. There are numerous playlists on Spotify and Youtube that you can explore.
Lighting is the Key
An article published by the University of North Carolina also points out another factor that significantly impacts workplace productivity: lighting. They have pointed out that lighting brightness and temperature can also influence psychological response.
Warm lighting makes people feel more relaxed, and thus, is recommended for a break or recreational rooms. Cooler lighting, on the other hand, is said to boost alertness and decrease fatigue so is therefore recommended for work areas and conference rooms.
You don’t really need to install excessive lighting especially if your business operates during the day. You can make the most of natural light by strategically placing work stations near windows.
Just make sure that your lighting is adequate, especially if natural light sources are limited. Install additional light fixtures as needed and again, plan the placement of your employees’ workstations to make the most of it.
Chair and Table
Color, noise, lighting…these are factors that only have an indirect impact on your employees if you really think about it. What can influence them more straightforwardly, though, are the office furniture that they use every day such as their work desk and office chair.
Follow the Ergonomic Rules
The first thing that you want is to provide them with a chair that is ergonomically designed for comfort. Ill-fitted office chairs can lead to muscle pain and other health issues, especially after prolonged use.
Fidgeting around, trying to find the most comfortable position can also ruin one’s momentum and create an unnecessary distraction.
An adjustable table or standing desk, on the other hand, is the ideal work surface. It encourages your employees to increase their physical activity even if it simply means standing up every once in a while.
It also allows your employees to adjust the height of their table to position their computer monitor at eye level to prevent neck pain or their keyboard to prevent wrist injury.
Recreate a Certain Ambiance
Your choice of furniture can also influence the general atmosphere of your workplace.
Increased sitting areas, for instance, can create a cafe-like vibe that promotes creativity and collaboration.
Meanwhile, installing cubicle dividers subtly imposes that your company values focus, concentration, and silence.
Regardless of the aesthetic, you’re going for, we always recommend furniture pieces that look clean and minimalistic.
It can match any color. It inspires employees to be more organized with their things. And it creates an illusion of space that helps widen up even small cubicles.
If the tone and temperature of your lighting can influence workplace productivity, then it only makes sense that actual temperature can impact it as well.
In a study from Helsinki University of Technology, it was found that work performance levels are significantly affected by changes in temperature. To be more specific, the paper concluded that work performance levels decreased by 2% every time the temperature rose a degree higher than 25°C.
This means that office space with a temperature of 27°C will suffer from a 4% decrement in work performance.
Interestingly, one should also consider the gender demographic of your workplace as well before adjusting your thermostat.
In another study, this time from the University of Southern California, it was found that women perform better in higher temperatures, but the reverse effect had been observed in men.
Should you decide that your office needs a little cooling down, though, might we suggest using a bladeless fan?
It is quieter than the standard AC unit, and can easily be moved around as needed. We’ve also found that they require less maintenance compared to traditional electric fans.
Room temperature also affects perceived indoor air quality and can either increase or decrease sick building syndrome, but probably not as much as how your office smells.
Weird odors can be a sign of a more pressing issue such as mold growth and air contamination.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) estimates that companies lose billions of dollars each year due to poor indoor air quality due to health care spending, sick leaves, and loss in productivity.
Hence, you might want to consider installing air filters and promoting increased ventilation.
Limit pollutants by prohibiting smoking and scheduling renovations during vacations as well.
Aside from that, scents can also influence one’s psychology as well, just as much as colors do. Scents like pine and cinnamon are known to increase alertness and focus.
Just make sure to keep it subtle as strong smells can severely affect indoor air quality as well.
Invite Nature In
Finally, in relation to the previous tips, what do you think improves indoor air quality, produces a subtle scent that is conducive to creativity, and also comes in a cool color that can improve one’s mood?
That’s right. The answer is plants.
Not only that, but plants also invite an outside element into your office creating an atmosphere that is more conducive to working.
After all, staying indoors (especially workspaces) can make one feel cramped and restricted. It also creates a feeling that work-life balance is being neglected.
While there are certainly more solid steps to improve work-life balance that can then result in improved productivity, having greenery in your workplace is a step in the right direction.
The interior design of your workspace is not just a reflection of your brand and company values. What a lot of business owners don’t realize is that it can directly impact productivity levels as well.
Interior colors and scents, for instance, can influence one’s mood and mental state. Aggressive colors can promote healthy competition, while certain scents can boost focus and alertness.
Adequate lighting should not be neglected as well. Lighting temperature can affect one’s creativity and concentration.
Distractions in the form of noise and visual clutter must also be kept at a minimum.
Finally, you can also leverage your office setup to improve your employee health and lessen sick leaves by providing ergonomically designed office furniture and improving air quality.