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What is the optimal office space design for productivity?

It can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer. After all, what exactly constitutes a “perfect” office design can be a very subjective judgement, with different employees likely to find themselves motivated in different ways. Is there really an effective “catch-all” solution?

In assessing the various types of design from which you could choose, you could soon see how significantly they can differ in their strengths. For example, while open plan offices are photogenic, they have been accused of stifling face-to-face collaboration, as per a Harvard study cited in an Inc. article.

Meanwhile, though research shows that enclosed private offices are popular on account of their visual and aural privacy, they fail to provide the most easy-to-maintain physical environment. Therefore, they could compromise productivity in the long run, a point to which we will return.

Having read all of this, you might be tempted to simply throw your hands up in the air and settle for essentially just choosing an office design at random. However, there remains abundant research showing how you could benefit from being selective with your workplace design choices.

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Encourage your staffers to move

It’s ironic that the very type of office design you might have expected to spur face-to-face interactions – the open plan design – could actually hinder exactly those, as we have already seen from research. However, the open plan option could still have one particularly strong advantage…

Here, we are thinking of the advantage of encouraging your workers to rise to their feet and move around the space – especially if you keep desks and offices physically separate in such a way that workers are unable to talk to each other without physically moving first.

Therefore, as BOSS Magazine explains, “short strolls will get the blood flowing, which boosts energy and productivity.” Your staff will also benefit from a mental refresh as they journey by foot to a co-worker’s office or a physically distant conference room.

That would be no small boon, as multiple studies highlighted by Business News Daily show that, through interspersing their work periods with mental resting, workers can lend themselves boosted productivity. Meanwhile, short bursts of movement during the day can help to lower stress levels.

Green there, done that? Maybe you haven’t

Did you know that simply seeing nature can enhance an individual’s productivity by 15%? That could give you a strong incentive to make sure none of your employees are too far from a window through which they can catch sight of the sumptuous beauty of rural scenery.

If a readily accessible window view just wouldn’t be practically possible for all of your workers, you could still use a few potted plants as workplace decor. It would be a sensible strategy in light of the World Economic Forum’s report that natural elements can evidently improve wellbeing by 13%.

Still, the International Well Building Institute has sourced data revealing that workers stationed over 7.5 metres away from a window suffer a drop in their productivity. Besides, in allowing your workers to be bathed in natural light, you can help them to lower their levels of anxiety and stress.

That organic illumination could also boost these workers’ supply of crucial vitamin D, of which many of us simply don’t get enough. On top of that, swapping out electrical light for natural light where possible can, of course, help you to save money.

You could go even further by making an eco-friendly mentality intrinsic to your business. That could mean registering for green web hosting, switching to renewable energy and sourcing food locally, therefore ensuring that CO2 does not have to be produced as significantly as before in shipping it.

Allow technology to help, not hinder, your workers

As you can probably attest if you’ve ever ended up caught in an argument on Twitter or struggling to reawaken a computer that has inexplicably gone AWOL, technology can sometimes seem to bring as many problems as it does solutions. Could it be threatening your workers’ productivity?

Let’s focus on the good news first: provided that you use technology in the right way, it can spur productivity increases rather than leave your staff flailing. Consider, for example, the ability of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to produce virtual walls capable of countering a common problem with open plan office spaces: the lingering possibility of distractions.

Both technologies could be useful for training purposes, too – allowing your workers to practice “in the field” without actually, well, being in the field. Futuristic gadgets that also bode well for the modern working environment include infinity monitors and wearable devices.

However, one problem with gadgets in the workplace is that they can be distracting. According to studies, smartphones are particular culprits for adversely-affected daily productivity, with one survey even finding that, on average, workers weekly spend almost five hours – the equivalent of over half a work day – using their mobile devices to complete tasks unrelated to work.

Therefore, when overseeing a redesign of your working environment, it could be helpful for you to decide exactly where all of the gadgets – including smartphones and tablets – will be kept. They should be exactly that – kept there – while you work uninterrupted by any arising notifications.

Naturally, having all of your workers’ mobile devices switched to silent mode can help you to reduce noise levels capable of distracting even people who never use the devices in question.

Don’t neglect the personal touch

At Maris, our Shoreditch-based workplace design experts know how much preparation has to go into making a workplace design “just right” for the variety of people who will work for your company. In collaboration with you, we can help you to create a design that your workers can personalise, too.

By allowing your workers to personalise their dedicated spaces, you can help those employees to feel more emotionally connected to their work. We invite you to chat with us over the phone on 0207 902 1866 to learn more about how this is possible.