How to Enhance Performance through Thoughtful Workplace Design

By Michelle Adams | Content Writer | Rocketbadge

Low productivity is a concern that keeps many UK business owners awake at night. Since the 2008 financial crisis, UK productivity growth has been sluggish, even though employees report working harder and faster than ever before.

Yet, taking the time to plan out a well-thought-out workplace can be a significant source of productivity growth. Workplace design trends are evolving to better engage employees and optimise workplace performance. A carefully designed workspace can make it easier for employees to work more quickly, easily and collaboratively. Here, we look at a few ways that you can enhance your employees’ performance through thoughtful workplace design.

1) Create Personal Workspaces

One of the biggest workplace trends to emerge in the last few years is open floor plans, or Open Offices. Everyone from Google and AirBnB to the small start-up around the corner boasted their open floor plans as an indication of their collaborative and innovative environments. At one point, some 80 percent of American offices were considered Open Offices.

However, in the past few years, evidence has emerged that Open Offices actually reduce productivity. The reason: lots of interruptions. Without doors or partitions to provide privacy, employees open themselves up to uncontrolled interactions, as well as high levels of noise.

To enhance performance in your office, consider bucking the trend and opting for personal workspaces instead. Give employees a space to make their own, where they can control when and how they engage with other employees and can focus on their work when necessary.

To encourage collaboration, consider adding a “third space” in the office - a space dedicated to collaboration and conversation. A great way to incorporate this is with a small cafe space or lounge area.

Clean Bookcase and Chairs

2) Consider the Environment

Environmental factors within the workplace can have a significant impact on employee productivity and well-being. For example, poor ventilation and dysfunctional heating or cooling systems can lead to discomfort and even health problems. Consider evaluating key environmental factors within your office to ensure employees have a comfortable and enjoyable workplace, such as:

  • Inadequate lighting
  • High noise levels
  • Ventilation systems
  • Office temperature

You may also want to consider how your workplace is decorated. Do the colours you use reflect your brand? What emotions do they evoke? Specific colours tend to stir different emotions in people, and could be playing a part in your employees’ productivity. For example, bold colours like red and yellow are often associated with high energy levels while more muted colours like blue and green tend to evoke calm.  


3) Bring Nature Indoors

Another factor to consider is employees’ connections to nature. The biophilia hypothesis, popularised in the 1980s, suggests that humans hold an inherent love for nature and literally means “love of life or living systems.” Incorporating biophilia into workplace design has been proven to have measurable results relating to employee performance, well-being and stress reduction. The idea is that by bringing employees closer to nature it makes them feel happier and more valued, which in turns leads to increased creativity and productivity.

There are already many leading brands that recognise the value of a greener workplace, including Apple, Google, and Amazon. In fact, a recent study of 7,600 office workers across 16 countries recently found that workspaces with biophilic design were six percent more productive and 15 percent more creative.

So, why not bring more nature indoors? Populating your office with plants, greenery and other natural elements is an ideal way to enhance workplace performance.

Man at desk

4) Design with Purpose

There’s plenty of different ways that you can plan your office space, the key is to know what you want to accomplish with the space. Your workplace design should be driven by your company culture and values, and strive to provide an environment that’s enjoyable for your employees. Take the time to study successful work space designs in other companies, and draw inspiration for your own office design. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the latest workplace design trends, but the most important factor to consider is what choice has the greatest impact on your business.

5) Think Beyond the Office

While workplace design can have a significant impact on productivity, consider ways to make employees feel more connected to the company and brand as a whole. You want employees to feel welcome, valued and part of the team before they even walk in the door on Day One. Consider some creative ways to welcome new hires on their first day, and keep them engaged on a continual basis. Outfitting your employees’ workstations with practical, branded merchandise is also a great way to engage them with your company and remind them of their value to the company. Some popular and effective workstation items include branded pens, mouse mats, laptop stickers, branded notebooks and stationary.

Whether you opt for a minimal or conventional workplace design, how you design your office does matter when it comes to measuring staff wellbeing and productivity. The key is to finding what works best for your business and staff. Ultimately, workplace design only works when it aligns with your business’s goals and needs.