How Office Space Impacts Employee Productivity

Posted on: 5 June 2014


The office environment can impact your employees' performance in numerous ways. According to one piece of research by J. Michael Syptak MD titled "Job Satisfaction: Putting Theory Into Practice," the office environment directly impacts a person's satisfaction and, in turn, how productive they are.

Even Adecco, one of the leading staffing agencies in the US, is quick to point out how crucial the "right" office space can be. "Most of us are aware that happy employees create a pleasant work environment, but did you know that happy workers also save their business money?" the staffing agency asks. "It's true—happier employees are more productive," and it all starts with optimizing their happiness on the job.

But what exactly makes a "good office" anyway?

There's No One Size Fits All Approach

Different industries are filled with professionals who have different ideas of the perfect office. It depends on many factors like average employee age, job descriptions and even regions throughout the US. Some employees might consider an open office plan ideal while others need peace and quiet only offices can offer.

However, there are some truths across the board. A good office space is:

  • Cleansed and sanitized on a regular basis
  • Full of comfortable, ergonomic furniture (that isn't too comfortable)
  • The right volume level for the tasks at hand
  • Easily accessible via public transportation and offers plenty of easy parking
  • Bright, cheerful and full of natural light
  • Boasting furniture that's in good condition

The Office-Happiness-Productivity Connection

For many people, all they want when they're ill is to cozy up in their home -- assuming it's clean and uncluttered. You just feel better in environments where you're comfortable and the space is uncluttered, clean and pleasing. Whether you realize it or not, coming home to a dirty (by your standards) home stresses you out.

The same is true at the office. PsychCentral, a leading source for psychology news, recently reported that UK researchers “have found that the work environment has a significant effect on a person's perception of well-being and happiness.” The Queen Mary University of London undertook the study -- dubbed "Whitehall II"and looked at 5,182 civil servants in London during one of the biggest longitudinal studies of all time.

No matter where you are -- work, home or at the gym --being happier can lead to many things like:

  • More endorphins, which give you a natural "high"
  • Oxytocin is released, which increases a person's trust
  • Less stress
  • More active (in the workplace, this translates as more productive)
  • Better health (which means fewer sick days)
  • More open to discussion, changes and brainstorming

How to Improve Your Office Space on a Budget

Few companies have thousands or millions to spare to create a Google-esque workspace. That's okay. There are many ways to improve any workspace without moving, knocking down walls or replacing the furniture. Plus, many companies lease space and can't make big changes anyway.

Ready to optimize the office at little or no cost? Consider these changes:

  • Hold meetings outside when possible, such as a "picnic meeting" by taking advantage of nearby park spaces
  • Encourage everyone to bring in a plant to care for
  • Research ergonomic best practices and hold a seminar
  • Ensure the cleaning crew is holding up their end of the bargain
  • If necessary, seek out free office furniture that's being donated—oftentimes it's nearly new and the only requirement is that you pick it up

Build a Community

Aren't sure what kind of office your employees would be happiest in? Simply ask. Being receptive to feedback will make sure you know exactly what they want, and also give them a sense of pride and ownership in the company.

Be sure to read additional info on boosting employee morale and productivity in your office. Doing so will help make your place of work, the best place to work.