Office design: How work surroundings affect productivity

Office space design can have a profound effect on employees. Poorly designed work areas can result in employees suffering from physical ailments and even the development of chronic injuries. Additionally, the psychological effects of working day after day in a cramped and uncomfortable space may contribute to depression, irritability and an inability to focus and complete projects correctly and on-time.


Employers can avoid these pitfalls by paying more attention to the layout and functionality of their offices, while employees make adjustments on their own to improve their workspaces.


Effects of poor office design


A poorly designed office can have a negative effect on the physical health and well-being of an employee. Poor lighting in an office area can result in eyestrain, headaches and general fatigue. Improper positioning of a computer screen can also result in severe eyestrain for an employee.


An office area with a bad layout can result in employees being distracted by activity in hallways, other offices and conference rooms or even outside. This will result in a marked decrease in productivity. Improper positioning of chairs, desks and computer equipment can also result in employees having issues with pain and even injuries that will reduce productivity.

Improving productivity through better office design

Raising light levels in an office can increase the employee productivity rates substantially, while simultaneously decreasing the rate of work-related errors. Natural light is the best form of light for the human eyes; daylight not only improves the individual’s ability to distinguish between colours accurately, but also has been shown to improve cognition and alertness. If the building construction restricts access to sufficient natural light, fluorescent lighting equipped with dimmer switches will provide good quality light for working. Natural light is easy to balance and control through the use of window shutters.

Improving the quality of the office space can be done in a variety of ways. Adjusting the layout of the office space can help reduce distractions from hallway activities or outside distractions, especially if the office is located on a street-level floor; a simple turn of the desk or the addition of a decorative screen or shade can accomplish this.

Ergonomics, simply put, is the science of making the human body more comfortable, resulting in better health and increased productivity. Making the office workspace comfortable physically will serve to reduce fatigue and work-related injuries such as neck strain, back strain and carpal tunnel. The positioning of the computer monitor, the keyboard and the chair all play a role in this; good posture, and not sitting in one position for too long, is the key. High quality office furniture, such as ergonomic chairs, will help employees maintain good posture and sit more comfortably.

Increasing and maintaining a high rate of productivity is the goal of every employer; employees also want to be successful and productive at work. While poor layout and outfitting in an office can hamper this desire for success, taking steps to modify the office space, improving lighting and space usage and reducing the risks of strain and injury can result in a more comfortable and profitable work environment.

Office design: How work surroundings affect productivity