Whether you work in an office building or from a home office, the design of your workplace definitely influences the quality and speed of your work. This especially true when it comes to tasks which require focus.
Studies examining productivity at work have shown that the physical space in which people work has the most impact on their ability to focus. In addition to this, improving workplace design can increase worker productivity by 20 percent. Unfortunately, many people simply do not put much thought into workplace design. However, if you were going to design or redesign your workplace with productivity in mind, here are a few things that you could try.
Use Colour Wisely
It’s been proven that different colours have different effects on our state of mind. For example, yellow has a relaxing effect, while blue has been proven to result in increased productivity and to create the impression of professionalism. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the walls in your office should be blue, but it wouldn’t hurt to include blue in your overall colour scheme.
Of course, if you work in your own space, you have many more options. You don’t have to rely on studies to tell you which colours you should use. Instead, you can rely on your own tastes and experience to select colors that you find to be energising and that lift your mood.
Use of Lighting Should be a Significant Factor in Your Workplace Design
Unfortunately, when most offices are designed, light is one of the last things to be given consideration. This is true when it comes to both design priority and budget. This is why many office spaces are lit with harsh fluorescent lighting. The results of bad lighting can be headaches, difficulties with visibility, and poor mood. Poor lighting design can also result in shadowy spaces. The poor people who have to work in these spaces can even come down with cases of depression.
If you are able to make changes to the lighting in your workplace, try to use bulbs that mimic natural lighting. Then, provide each work area with it’s own source of light that can be adjusted for both brightness and placement. Finally, if they are available, encourage open blinds to let in natural light whenever possible. If you work from a home office, most of these rules can be applied in that space as well.
Find Ways to Mitigate Noise
For some reason, the trend in office design seems to be to put everybody in bullpen style rooms with no way for anybody to block out the noise that other people are making. While this design may be budget friendly, it certainly isn’t conducive to productivity. In fact, it can be nearly impossible to start an effective work session with a bunch of conversations and other noise happening around you.
If you are designing an office space, and cannot afford to provide everybody with an enclosed workspace, consider adding a few private work areas for yourself or other employees who are working on tasks that require a lot of focus. If you are working from a home office, consider purchasing a machine that produces white noise or wearing noise canceling headphones to cut out distracting noises while you work.
Air Quality Should be Considered Part of The Design Process
Poor air quality can result in stuffy, stale air. That creates an uncomfortable work environment for anybody, but it can be particularly hard for people who are asthmatic or prone to upper respiratory infections. In fact, poor air quality is directly attributed to increased amounts of sick time being used and lower levels of productivity. Fortunately, fans, air filters, and open windows can help a lot. If windows cannot be opened, then it might be a good idea to invest in an air filtration system that works as part of the HVAC system. Another option that works well in an office building or home office is to use live plants as a way to clean the air and produce oxygen.
Individual Work Areas Should be Comfortable and Customisable
One of the most important considerations when designing a personal or company work environment is providing tables and chairs that are comfortable for you and everybody else in your office. Of course, the only way to accomplish this is to provide adjustable chairs to accommodate personal preferences and varying heights and weights. 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. For example, some employees may be willing to sacrifice drawer space in order to have more space to move around and work. Others may wish to have their computers positioned so that they can look out a window. If you are working on your personal office space, remember to follow the tips on ergonomics that are located here. You might also consider investing in wrist rests and other tools to make work areas more comfortable.
Do Your Best to Keep The Room at a Comfortable Temperature
If you only have yourself to consider, this isn’t much of a concern. Simply purchase fans, heaters, or in room air conditioners if need be, in order to keep your office at a temperature that is optimal for your own productivity. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to maintain a comfortable temperature in an office with multiple people. However, you might want to experiment with turning up the thermostat if you’ve made a habit of keeping it below 70 Fahrenheit. In many cases, warmer rooms result in an increase in productivity.
Keep Clutter to a Minimum
Too much clutter creates a kind of visual pollution that many people find to be distracting. In fact, this is so bothersome to some people that they find it nearly impossible to work productively in a messy environment. That’s not the only problem. In a workplace with many people, the presence of clutter can also create resentment when those who keep neat work areas and contain their possessions to their own work areas become irritated with those who do not. To some extent, problems with clutter can be mitigated with policy. However, it is also important to create a work area for each individual that provides them with plenty of storage space. It may also help to create segregated work areas so that departments that tend to produce a lot of clutter, e.g., marketing departments aren’t mixed in with departments that tend to be more involved in heads down tasks such as data entry.
Use Smells to Boost Mood and Increase Productivity
Because it is too difficult to determine which smells are universally appealing, and which are offensive to others, it isn’t a good idea to use scents in a shared office space. However, if you work from home, or have an enclosed office space, you can use scents such as citrus, pine, and cinnamon to improve focus, alertness, and to help prevent you from feeling sleepy. Peppermint and lavender can be used to improve your mood and relieve stress. If you don’t like the smoke that is produced from burning candles or incense, you might want to consider options such as scented wax melts, sachets of dried herbs, or essential oils.
Provide Varying Work Areas For Productivity And Morale
There is simply no single workspace that is appropriate for every task that you or any of your employees is going to undertake. The ideal space for collaboration is not going to be a good space for individual work requiring high levels of concentration. Because of this, it is a good idea to provide a variety of work areas. For example, you might want to create a couple of open areas with big tables for collaborations, a few smaller enclosed conference rooms, and quiet work areas for people who are working on tasks that require focus and concentration. For a home office, have a few alternative work locations in your home, or even outside of your home at local cafes or parks.
It is also a good idea to provide some variety in order to keep yourself and others feeling upbeat and motivated. Why not add a few couches or even an outdoor work area for people who might like to spend a bit of time working outside during nice weather. In addition to this, consider adding kitchen areas, break rooms, and other similar spaces. This will give people the chance to physically get away from their work areas during breaks and lunch times. It will also make it fast and easy for employees to get a quick bite to eat or drink without having to leave the building.
Focusing on design is no waste of time. If you create a well-designed workspace for yourself and the people who work for you, the result is happier, healthier, and more productive employees. If you have a home office, don’t discount the importance of a comfortable work environment for your home office as well. Your health and morale are just as important as anybody.
Diana Beyer is an experienced creative director who is passionate about writing. Her purpose is to share some value among interested people. Apart from work, Diana likes travelling and reading. Personal motto: “Do one thing every day that scares you”. You can contact her through Twitter.