In short: quite a bit. For many of us, the office - or dedicated workspace - is where we spend around a third of our lives. And while our work performance is based on many factors, a major component of optimal productivity is a direct result of our surroundings and how conducive they are for working.
We’ve all likely experienced several working environments throughout careers: some forgettable, others amazing. The job that made you want to get up in the morning and achieve great things was probably the one where the physical workspace was pleasant, peaceful and mentally encouraging.
Today, many companies are making the effort to create inspiring and inviting workspaces to heighten productivity amongst their employees. The greatest asset and key to success - and how companies make a profit! - is the workforce, from the lowest rung on the ladder all the way to the top.
It can be something as simple as having plants in certain areas and comfortable furniture to renovating the entire space to a worker-friendly design. Here are the main factors that companies need to take into consideration when setting up a productive work environment:
LightingStudies have shown how the lack of natural light in offices (where we spend a minimum of eight hours daily) affects our mental and physical health on many levels. The most common being the influence it has on our circadian rhythms (how our body regulates the sleep-wake cycle), which can result in workers feeling tired, unmotivated and depressed. There’s a reason why everyone wants the office or desk with a window!
Colour SchemesDrab should not be the theme of an office, even if the business isn’t creative or fun. Too many offices feature off-white, grey or other dull-coloured walls because these are readily available and easy to match. A study done by the University of Texas tested the effect of three colours - aqua, red, white - on employees performing clerical tasks. The results showed that more mistakes were made in the white room, and while some people were able to perform normally in both the red and aqua room, others were distracted by the bright colours. Ultimately, the study found that colours that enhances creativity and productivity include blue, green, light yellow and surprisingly, red.
NoiseThis will come as no surprise, but a noisy work environment is detrimental to productivity. We’ve all been in that situation – a loud colleague on the phone, noisy typists or construction going on somewhere in the building. You try and write that report, but the noise overwhelms your thought process and you’re officially stuck. Sure, headphones do help, but the office can also gently enforce “quiet time” to lower noise levels or have quiet zones for staff to escape.
Flexible WorkspacesSome people like cubicles, others want to work communally, and the rest want their own office or the flexibility to work move around and work where they want. Today’s employer needs to acknowledge this and adjust according to the nature of the business. Creative industries are more relaxed with people brainstorming in beanbag chairs or co-working spaces, while a financial services company will have more privacy with classic meeting room facilities. It’s all about being flexible and having spatial awareness to encourage employee productivity.
TemperatureIn the tropics, air conditioning is a necessity due to the constant heat and humidity. But, there are some offices that insist on sub-zero temperatures at all time and it’s a common sight to see staff in winter gear while it’s 30 degrees outside! Studies have shown the ideal temperature for a productive office is 22 degrees Celsius.