How office layout affects productivity

It’s likely you and your staff spend a lot of time in the office, so it’s only right that the space is a positive place to work and socialise. But have you ever considered how the layout of your office might affect the productivity and work efforts of your employees? We’ve delved deeper into how your office arrangement can affect productivity, as well as some of the types of office layout that are the most popular in the UK.

Office environment and what to consider

Your work surroundings can have a big impact on the quality and number of tasks that are being completed. Here are some specific points that, as a business owner, you should think about in order to gain a more productive, positive office environment.

Noisy vs. quiet workspaces

It’s likely that all of your employees are different and no two will thrive in the same work environment. This means you need to create a work space that will suit nearly everyone. This may sound like a big task, but it might not be as difficult as you think.

You need to think about the noise levels in your office. Some people like silence, others like general chatter and background noise and some like to listen to music. For those that prefer a noisier atmosphere or listen to music, open plan offices are perfect. Breakout rooms could be used for informal meetings and ideas discussions.

However, this may not suit people who prefer to work with little sound. Is there somewhere the employee can go to work in a quieter environment? There may be a meeting room and a laptop available to them, or there may be a separate office area that could be used for quiet workers.

There should be a number of places available in your office that have different working environments that suit your staff. This way, everyone’s preferences are satisfied, helping them to get more work done.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics is all about the office working conditions, such as lighting, equipment and desk setup. You should make sure that each member of staff is happy with their working conditions and there aren’t any urgent issues that may be preventing your employees from performing at their best.

You should make sure that all workers are comfortable. This means ensuring that the room temperature is just right, the lighting is adequate and staff are happy with their desk and chair setup.

The lighting in the office is important as sufficient light could prevent eye strain, tiredness and headaches. You should let as much natural light into the building as possible and have artificial lights on all of the time too.

The employees’ computer screens should be at eye level and shouldn’t reflect any glare from windows or office lighting. Keyboard and mouse rests should be provided if needed to support the arms and wrists correctly. Office chairs should be fully adjustable and footrests should be provided if the employee’s feet can’t touch the floor.

If your staff aren’t comfortable, or have sustained injuries from an improper work space, they may not get as much work done. You should do everything you can to ensure they feel happy and relaxed.

Decor

How the office looks could have a big impact on productivity. Is it a boring space with white walls and blinds over the windows so your employees feel closed in? Or is it a colourful, vibrant room that has plenty of natural light and plants to provide additional oxygen? You could redesign your office space to make it a fun, relaxed place to work.

No one likes a cluttered office, so you should provide plenty of storage and drawer space for employees to keep personal items, stationery and paperwork in.

Plants could improve office productivity by up to 15 per cent  which makes them a must have accessory when it comes to your office decor.

Finally, inspirational sayings can be a good idea. If your company has any specific brand values or a slogan, you could put these on the walls of your office or breakout rooms.

What makes a positive work environment?

Now we’ve determined some of the things you can do to make your employees more productive, we want to clarify what makes a positive working space.

Communication

It’s important that you communicate with your employees, but also that they communicate with each other. Whether it’s around work issues, something good that has happened or their personal lives, communication is the key to a positive work environment.

Promoting a work-life balance

Employees should be able to leave on time and not feel guilty about it. Employers should encourage this kind of behaviour and not praise staff for staying late. If you find many members of your team are staying late, you may need to review their workflow as it could be a sign that they have too much to do.

Team spirit

A bad layout, such as enclosed cubicles, can have an impact on team spirit as it can prevent people from talking or engaging with each other. You should encourage teams and departments to interact with one another with a more open plan office space, which is something we discuss in the next section.

What are the different types of office layout?

There are many ways you can arrange your office, and there are pros and cons to each. It just depends on the kind of office environment you want to create.

You could choose an open plan office, like the one pictured.

office productivity

This allows members of staff to chat easily when they want to, but they also have their own personal space where they can get their head down and work.

In a cellular office layout, everyone has their own individual cubicles where they’re separated by slats between the desks. This may be ideal for those that prefer to work in a quiet environment, but it isn’t suited to everyone. A cellular office looks something like this:

office layout

Finally, you could use a combination of the two so that your employees can pick a space depending on whether they want to work in peace or whether they want a more relaxed environment.

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