5 Design Tips to Boost Workplace Productivity

Fluorescent lights and boring white walls are so demotivating and passé. Try these workplace design tips that are backed by research to help transform your office into a hub of productivity and focus.

By: Alythea Ho

Need to boost focus and productivity among your staff? Try making some changes to your workplace design. More businesses today seek new ways to build productivity by rearranging and remodeling office spaces – and you don’t have to be Google or Facebook to have an office that helps your staff feel motivated and focused.

Here are five design techniques researchers have found to improve workplace focus and productivity:

1. Bring the great outdoors indoors

Not everyone has the luxury of working for companies like Google, where employees get to enjoy oh-so-annoying privileges like energy pods, gorgeous viewing aquariums, and free massages.

However, research shows that viewing scenes of nature has a restorative effect on our cognitive function and helps reduce short-term stress. So try adding pictures of natural landscapes in your workplace. You can also add indoor plants for a calming boost. One study even suggests that people’s capacity for attention is restored after some major, err, plant-watching.

2. Skip the open-concept

People prefer privacy. If in doubt, simply look around your office and count the number of colleagues using earphones to block out noise and distraction.

Contrary to what people believe about how open-concept layouts build communication and ideation, studies show that the benefits gained from open-concept offices are significantly outweighed by the disadvantages. Such arrangements are associated with employee stress, low productivity, and reduced satisfaction. One Australian survey of 40,000 workers even showed that private offices out-performed open-concept offices in overall employee satisfaction.

3. Let there be Light

Research repeatedly suggests that natural sunlight helps keep us alert and active. Try designing your workplace in such a way that it incorporates natural light. If this is not feasible, consider adding natural lighting instead of your typical dreary, clinical fluorescent lighting to help foster productivity and focus.

4. Go for curves

Apparently straight edges make some people, well, edgy. In one study, participants were shown simulated interiors that contained straight edges and curves. These participants showed a preference for interiors with lots of curves (think curvy furniture or room designs), and rated these environments as more peaceful, calm and relaxing.

5. Decorate your space

Some experimenters did an experiment in which they compared people’s well-being in bare offices versus decorated offices. The short answer: Decorated offices wins hands-down for their positive effect on workers’ well-being, attention, and management of information. Plus, when people were allowed to do their own decorating, they reported even higher levels of productivity and well-being.

So give these design tricks a go. They might just give your workplace the oomph and motivation that it needs.


Do you find your workplace layout motivating or demotivating? Share with us in the comment box below!

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