Best Office Layout For Productivity

office space

Managers are constantly trying to find ways to increase office productivity while also promoting morale and employee mental health. Making changes to office design is one of the several ways to meet this goal and make your workers more efficient and productive. To help you take advantage of this opportunity, we’ve designed a helpful list of criteria that will help you in crafting the best office layout for productivity.

What Makes a Good Workspace?

inside of the office


There isn’t a single answer to the question “what is the best office layout?” Every company has different needs which require a different layout for productivity. To see which office layout is best for you, think about what you and your employees get done on a typical day.

That being said, there are some common outliers of what makes a space more productive and increases the mental health of employees. According to Gensler, a global architecture company, the U.S. Workplace Survey of 2016 showed that people prefer a workspace which encourages both individual and group spaces, and enhances collaboration.

While both open and closed office spaces can be effective, Gensler identified three main points which made workspaces more productive and led to greater employee satisfaction rates.

  • 1
    How effectively noise is controlled in the work area
  • 2
    The design, look, layout, and feel of the workspace
  • 3
    How easily people and resources could be accessed

Employees that feel more invested in by their companies report better relationships with management, more functionality in their jobs, and more happiness in their day-to-day work.



Closed Versus Open Layout Plans

two woman writing on a white board

For many years, traditional office spaces were designed with closed-off, cellular cubes that gave the worker privacy. However, in the last decade, an increasing number of office spaces have turned away from this model.

More and more businesses are giving the open layout concept a try. Instead of individual cubicles that restrict social interaction, many managers are encouraging employee communication during the workday.

Giant companies like Facebook and Samsung have started implementing this style layout to benefit the health and productiveness of their teams.

The idea behind the concept is that employees will be able to bounce ideas from each other, feel more comfortable asking for help, and increase social interaction which will help people to feel more comfortable at work.

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology did a study analyzing the efficiency of open workspaces as they compared to closed workspaces.

It’s shown that sharing a room with other colleagues made knowledge sharing incredibly more efficient.

Employees who worked in open workspaces spent 45 minutes more a day exchanging ideas and a total of 78% of unplanned meetings occurred in the workspace. Out of the total number of unplanned meetings, 72% of them were brought on because an employee walked over to another.

It’s also proven that employees who sat within close walking distance of each other were much more likely to share ideas with each other than in offices where employees were more far away. However, just because open office layouts are becoming more popular, doesn’t mean they work for everyone. Ultimately, it is the worker themselves who has the agency to decide how to use a workspace. Sometimes noise or visual distractions can make people unproductive.

For Professor Ethan Bernstein of Harvard, removing the spatial boundaries of a closed office layout can actually decrease the level of collaboration and collective intelligence in an office. Spatial boundaries can help some employees make sense of their environment by knowing who is watching and who is not, who answers the questions, and who does what.

Depending on the function of your office, an open or closed layout can bring about more productivity. Before deciding on a layout, think about how you want your team to hold meetings, what the hierarchy of the office is, and what would make your team feel comfortable.

The Power of Light and Color

office meeting

When deciding on office space, keep an open mind for how much natural lighting the space gets and if it continues throughout the day.

If the space you’ve found has a good amount of natural lighting, try to place the desks in a position where they can receive natural light throughout the day.

Florescent lights make places seem more uncomfortable which doesn’t encourage strong productivity from the employee. If your office space doesn’t have any natural lighting, try to find floor lamps that mimic the look of natural lighting.

Artificial lighting will be your new best friend in windowless spaces. To truly capture the feel of natural lighting, buy full-spectrum bulbs that have the ability to simulate the sun’s light and add a soft warmth to the space.

Desk spotlights are also a good choice. While they are more intense than full-spectrum bulbs, they add enough light to be productive without adding artificialness to the office.

If you have a windowless space or just want to add a more natural feel to your office, add some low-light plants that can take away from the stiffness of a typical workspace. Spider plants and ferns are ideal choices since they can thrive in low light environments.

Color also has a significant effect on our brain and mood in the workplace. Color can cause both a physical and an emotional response which encourages people to be more productive. For example, blue has been shown to spark productivity.

To illicit creativity and productiveness, bring items from home that inspire you to stay focused and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

The Do’s and the Don’t of Office Layouts

office sitting room

When you decide how you want to structure the best office layout for productivity, keep in mind some of the best things to do, and some of the most important things to avoid when making your employees more comfortable and less distracted.

Do's

  • Do make sure all cords and wires are hidden and sorted away. Apart from making the office look more visually appealing, this also prevents people from tripping over computer plugs.
  • Do face all your photos and achievements towards yourself. It’s normal to want to display these items on your desk, but putting them outward can come off as pompous. You don’t want to put off an artificial or bragging persona to your colleagues.

Don't

  • Don’t put mirrors in your office. While they do have the ability to make space feel bigger, they also can make people self-conscious about what they look like that day. While it might seem nice to have a larger looking space, it won’t be nice when your employees distract themselves from their work by what their hair looks like.
  • If your office meets with clients, do not use a standing desk. Clients that are coming through your office want to sit in a comfortable chair. Standing can make clients feel inferior and not as willing to take risks with your company.

Getting a new office or remodeling your current one is a big deal. It is a huge opportunity for collaboration, encouraging relationships, and molding success.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to give your employees an environment they can thrive in. By following the guidelines above, you can create the best office layout for productivity and lead your company to success.

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