Is Your Office Design Helping or Hindering Employee Productivity?

Is you office building helping or hurting your employees
Your working environment can have a significant impact on your staff productivity. The office layout, wall colors, decoration and other surroundings can help or hinder the creativity and output produced. No wonder Google and many other companies spend so much attention and money on office buildings and furnitures.

What factors do you need to consider as you look to improve the working environment to boost productivity, creativity and employee retention for your company? Here are some ideas:


Today most offices are laid out as open plan. Modern open plan workspace, with jumbled desks facing different ways, was introduced in the 1950s. Prior to that offices were full of row upon row of forward facing desks, a bit like a classroom, or they were made up of numerous small offices that contained few workers within them.

There are many benefits to having modern open plan offices: they are cost-effective, encourage communication, and provide flexibility to accommodate a growing workforce.

However, open plan layout may not be suitable for all companies. For some, it can have a negative impact on productivity. Studies have shown that open plan offices tend to be noisy, lack privacy, result in higher stress levels, reduce concentration and can cause conflict.

Open plan offices can benefit those businesses that need frequent communication between workers and have employees who thrive in a high-pressured, busy and noisy atmosphere. However if the type of work you do requires an environment that is quiet, independent thinking and privacy, open plan offices may not be the right choice.



Are you looking for your workers to be creative, to come up with new ideas and innovative designs? If so, make sure your office encourages this. Lighting and getting close to nature is believed to increase creativity, so much so that Spanish architect Selgas Cano designed and built his office predominately out of glass that looks like a long, glass tube. This innovative design allowed Cano’s employees feel close to the natural surroundings outside the office, while also letting in plenty of natural light.

You do not have to go to this extreme, but by making sure your office has a high level of natural light plus access to nature will help increase creativity.

It also helps to have more and frequent communication so that employees will be able to bounce ideas off one another. In addition, creating a relaxed working environment through music, humor, and flexibility will inspire creative ideas.


Space to Think

While some of your employees may be extroverts who like to be around people, there may be others who are thoughtful introverts and need a quiet place and the space to think.

Having a separate room that allows employees to have their own space is an ideal solution. However, this may not be practical in all offices, in which case allowing your workers to create their own working zone, for example, by listening to music through headphones, will help them achieve the similar result.


Fun and Relaxation

Having a place where staff can go to relax and let off steam will help to increase staff productivity. Google, for example, has a gym at one of its offices that features accessible showers and provides towels. Other fun ideas well-known companies have incorporated into their offices include slides to get between floors (Red Bull, London), pool tables (Google) and even a bowling alley (Infosys).

You probably do not have to go to this length, but simply providing a staff room where employees will feel comfortable will help them relax and have fun. Sometimes all it takes is simple things such as music or a television along with comfortable seating.

Written by Derin Clark, a writer, editor and blogger


  1. It’s interesting to me how generational values are translating into office designs/layouts. So for example — Gen Y really values collaboration, and a lot of companies are pushing to open-concept office layouts to encourage it.

    Meanwhile Gen X and Boomers worked hard to get that corner office and really value that — and don’t care for the open concept layouts. Not sure where I’m going with this, but I just thought it interesting.

    • SmallBizViewpoints says:

      Devan – True. As more and more Gen Yers go into professional career the office layout is going be transformed even more.

  2. It’s also important to note the importance of durable office furniture and comfortable office seating.


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