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How to Optimize Workspace Design to Increase Productivity

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Optimize workspace design? Productivity is critical for both individual performance and business success, and there are several ways to improve it. In this post, we will share six research-based strategies to increase productivity through workspace design!

How to Optimize Workspace Design to Increase Productivity | Beyond Sapiens

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Optimize Workspace Design & Productivity

Increasing productivity is one of the most important goals a business should focus on. After all, you can have the most skilled employees, but if they’re not maximizing their productivity, you’re leveraging only a fraction of their talent, directly affecting the overall business. There are several ways to improve company-wide productivity, from effective leadership to employee training.

But there is one aspect that is too often overlooked: workspace design. If you think about it, the workspace is where you spend most of your time, and research has shown having a strong influence on performance.

For example, imagine carrying out the same task in two different workspaces: one is a crowded, noisy office in a basement, and the other is a private office with a big window overlooking a forest. I don’t know about you, but we would perform much better in the latter. But what defines an optimal workspace design for productivity? Here are 6 research-based strategies.

Strategy 1: Office Layout & Design

How your office is set up, equipped, and designed significantly affects you and your health, but also how productive you can be. So let’s look at this more closely. Starting from the setup, studies have shown that regardless of the work type, productivity is at its best if your office has various choices regarding desk setups and workspaces.

For example, suppose you can choose between a quiet room, a silent boot, and a meeting room with adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs. In that case, you can ensure that your environment optimally supports your performance and ergonomics, depending on the task at hand.

A clear division between workspaces and refreshment areas is also essential when discussing office layout. By dividing these spaces, you can ensure that work and break time have their own dedicated spaces and don’t interfere with each other. This allows for a more focused work environment and peace of mind during breaks without disturbing others.

Besides the office layout, your workstation and its equipment matter too. If you have worked from home, you may like having your favorite pen, notebook, and coffee mug close to you, which isn’t always possible at the office. But it’s proven that personal things and decorations on your desk positively affect productivity.

So, having your dedicated desk at the office with your personal decorations and setup (in reasonable amounts) is a productivity hack that companies should support! Many things could be mentioned about office design, but there is one more interesting factor you might not consciously think about.

We, as humans, are all very similar in our core behaviors regardless of our personal preferences, which can be used in our favor at the office. Studies have shown that seeing softer textures and colors of blue and white increases productivity for most. With this in mind, you may want to consider the colors and elements when designing a workspace for productivity!  

Optimized workspace design
Optimize workspace designfor productivity

Strategy 2: Optimal Noice, Acoustics & Privacy 

Noise is another crucial element to consider, and it doesn’t really go hand in hand with open offices, which started gaining popularity in the 1960s and are now the norm. After all, they’re cost-effective and create open communication among employees. But, well, they’re terrible for productivity. If you’ve ever worked in an open space, you know what we’re talking about.

You’re being interrupted all the time; there’s constant chattering and no privacy whatsoever. Definitely not the best environment where to carry out focused and productive work. One of the reasons is because of noise levels. On average, open offices have a noise range of about 60 to 65 decibels, which is almost double what research has found optimal for productivity and focused work, which is 35 decibels.

At the same time, workspaces above 35 decibels, which I would say are most workspaces, negatively affect mental health and productivity. We understand having small, private offices for every employee isn’t feasible for most companies, but what can be done? Start by optimizing the overall office’s acoustics, then re-group employees in smaller groups.

The ideal workspace should go from 2 to a maximum of 5 employees, with acoustic and visual separations between the other groups. While to provide added privacy and focus, it’s ideal to have bookable breakout rooms. If you have limited space available, I recommend looking at companies like Hushoffice that manufacture office pods for maximum productivity.

Strategy 3: Optimal Temperature

What most people might not think about or even know how to affect is the temperature of their workspace. Believe it or not, this might be the most significant productivity mistake companies make. Workspaces that allow temperature regulation and control at the office have been reported to have 85% better work satisfaction, directly improving productive outcomes.

But the temperature level matters too. The connection between temperature level and productivity is as significant as 20%. To boost your performance, you should maintain an optimal working temperature between 18-25 degrees Celsius, depending on the season.

Of course, we must remember that we are all individuals, and our personal preferences, temperatures, and environment play a massive role in what we are used to and adapted to. An easy way to recognize a nonoptimal temperature is if you feel too hot or too cold. If you have these feelings or thoughts, you should change the temperature.

Connected to the temperature, humidity is also a key player in work performance. Optimizing for a humidity level between 40–55% ensures that the temperature and the feel of it are not negatively affecting concentration and productivity. 

Optimized workspace design
Beyond Sapiens orpimize workspace design 2

Strategy 4: Optimal Light & Enough of Daylight

Besides temperature, how well-lit the workspace is can dramatically affect productivity. That is because light exposure affects our internal clock, the circadian rhythm. Specifically, getting enough light during the day helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, which is crucial for optimal sleep quality and, therefore, performance.

Light exposure also plays a role in regulating the secretion of hormones such as melatonin and cortisol, which have significant effects on overall health. To give you an idea of how important light is, imagine that insufficient light exposure at the workplace is associated with 30% poorer sleep quality, increased fatigue, negative mood, and reduced productivity, which is the exact opposite of what you would like to have at work.

So, how can you leverage the power of light in your office? Have lots of it. In an ideal world, every employee would have their desk next to a big window, but this is not always possible. That’s when installing skylights and opting for artificial light can be a great choice. Just remember that a ceiling lamp isn’t enough.

Proper lighting design for productivity, in fact, also needs to include direct lighting, meaning light that is in our eyesight. This will allow you to reap all the benefits of light exposure. What matters is that the lights are powerful and are white, not yellow.

While later during the day, after sunset, your office lights should be warm and dimmed to help maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend looking at the office solutions by Helvar. With their expertise, you can ensure that your workspace is well-lit, helping to boost your productivity and overall health.

Strategy 5: Optimal Air Quality

Next, let’s think about air and breathing in terms of productivity. Breathing is our life force, so naturally, it has many effects on our health and capabilities, but so does the air we breathe. When optimizing productivity, we want to ensure that the air is fresh and clean. So, what should be monitored is the carbon dioxide concentration in the air.

As you know, we as humans breathe out CO2, so when indoors, we need ventilation to ensure optimal CO2 levels. A baseline and upper limit of CO2 should be 1000ppm, which is Parts Per Million. To give you some context on how this affects your work, the higher the CO2 concentration, the more significant the decrease in productivity.

This is because CO2 often causes headaches, fatigue, and trouble concentrating, hindering your performance. To avoid this, it’s essential to have sufficient ventilation in the workspace. An optimal stopping point for ventilation is usually 8 liter/sec/person. But maintaining this can become tricky, as the amount of people at the office varies due to work-from-home policies.

So just as I mentioned for the temperature regulation, allowing employees to regulate ventilation can have as big as a 12% positive impact on productivity

Optimized workspace design
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Strategy 6: Greenery & Greenspaces to Optimize Workspace Design

Did you know that plants can make you more productive? No matter how high-tech and futuristic we want to be, as Sapiens, our connection to nature is undeniable. We live and breathe thanks to it, and we can find great solace just by looking at it. And there is research to back this up.

By incorporating plants and green spaces into the workplace, employees can experience reduced stress, improved focus, and overall better mood. Having a couple of plants in the cafeteria isn’t enough. To harness the enhanced productivity and focus that greenery can provide, greenery must be directly visible from the desk; the sweet spot is having 1 to 3 plants per employee or desk.

And besides productivity,  research has also indicated that green spaces in the workplace can enhance air quality, improve acoustics, and create a more visually appealing environment, all of which can contribute to a better overall work experience. If you really want to crank your greenery up to 11, I recommend looking at the solutions offered by Naava, a company that literally brings the power of nature indoors.

Optimize Workspace Design for Productivity

As you have now learned, the design of your workspace plays a critical role in productivity and success. We think this justifies the importance of our environment and how much our work is affected by structural aspects.

While not all components may be within our control, focusing on areas that can be improved, you might be surprised how significantly they can affect your performance.

We at beyond Sapiens truly believe in optimized environments, and maximizing productivity is one of our core services. If your business would like to improve productivity, you can always book a free consultation call or read more about our business maximization assessment. You can find all the info about our service on this page.

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