The Ever-changing Office Landscape: Knowing What Is Important for Employees

Running a company is not as simple as it seems. You need to cover all bases to make sure that every business component is going in the right direction. Two of the many crucial factors to consider are employee satisfaction and productivity.

How a workplace is laid out has been proven to affect the employees’ well-being and efficiency in so many levels. Many companies are so quick to jump on any bandwagon just to cater to their employees’ needs that the landscape of office environments has evolved tremendously over the past years. In 2014, about 70% of U.S. offices moved to an open floor plan after this layout had been first introduced by a German team in the 1950s. A number of studies came out showing that these open working spaces encouraged innovation and better collaboration among employees.

These floor plans were a stark contrast to the cubicle farms that offices in Las Vegas and other states were used to. Employees sat shoulder to shoulder at communal desks instead of getting actual corner offices with a door that closed or cubicles that provided some privacy. However, after a number of studies were done to analyze how the new open office landscape affected staff motivation, companies are pulling back on the concept and are again looking at different design options for their office environments.

One such research conducted was on two Fortune 500 companies by behavior researchers from Harvard Business School. The study found that open floor plans reduced employees’ face-to-face conversations by as much as 70%. In contrast, digital correspondence, like email and instant messaging, increased by 56% and 67% respectively and replaced face-to-face interactions. Therefore, what would be the ideal office environment that can encourage more creativity, collaboration, and productivity?

Areas for Individual and Collaborative Work

With the ever-changing landscape of office designs, it should now be clear that there is no single design that will work best across all companies. There needs to be a combination of communal areas and rooms to facilitate the right mix of individual work and collaborative work.

Rooms with Natural Lighting

rooms with natural lighting

Employees crave access to natural light and views of the outdoors. More natural light translates to a 10% decrease in drowsiness. Optimized daylight exposure results in a 2% increase in employee productivity, the equivalent of an additional $100,000 per year for every 100 workers.

Rooms filled with the Appropriate Colors

Adding green plants to the office has shown to increase worker productivity by 15%. The color red improves attention to detail, while the color blue results in higher creativity. In addition, curved architecture is proven to result in pleasantness and decreased anxiety, while sharp edges lead to anxiety and fear.

Ergonomics in the workplace can lead to a reduction in injuries and absenteeism. According to studies, there is no one-size-fits-all office design. Instead, by understanding the different factors that facilitate efficiency and combining these with the company’s cultural aspirations, businesses should be able to come up with their own ideal office landscape.

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