New report highlights link between office design and productivity

September 26th, 2014 Category: Commercial

The association between untidy, and poorly designed work environments, and reduced productivity and motivation is well known.

After all, it stands to reason that if your place of work is cluttered and claustrophobic, then it is hardly likely to inspire you to want to be there.

By the same token, it will also make it much more difficult to find important documents and paperwork if your desk is stacked up with irrelevant newsletters, books, and papers strewn everywhere.

However, new findings have helped to underline the importance of the physical work environment and its link to the health and well being of employees.

New findings published by the World Green Building Council found that offices which are clean, sustainable, and well-designed are more likely to produce a good working atmosphere. 

On the other hand, buildings which have poor air quality and lighting increase sick days and have a negative impact on sleep.

Its report showed that a well ventilated office can boost staff productivity by up to 11 per cent, and should therefore be an essential element of office design.

However, despite the findings highlighted in the study, this is failing to influence most design and leasing decisions, according to the research.

Commenting on the study, Jane Henley, chief executive of the World Green Building Council, said: "The evidence linking good office design and improved health, wellbeing and productivity of their staff is now overwhelming.

"There is unquestionably a clear business case for investing in, developing and occupying healthier, greener buildings."

In addition, the research claimed that placing desks in positions with good views, and putting plants around the office can have a significantly beneficial impact on performance.

Similarly, the report found that ensuring there is plenty of natural daylight can enhance the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers.

In the study, researchers claimed that with employee benefits and salaries making up 90 per cent of an organisation's expenditure, spending more money on constructing better offices will be greatly outweighed by even small improvements in productivity of staff.

In addition to contributing to the health and wellbeing of workers, a harmonious atmosphere, and a design which lets in more sunlight, also helps to reduce energy use – thereby benefiting the environment as well.

Other factors also played a major role in the wellbeing and performance of staff members. According to the report, the noise levels, layout and access to facilities such as green spaces, gyms and bicycle storage also had a major effect on employees.

Geoff Dutaillis, Group head of Sustainability at Lend Lease, said: “Whatever business you are in, you are in the business of people. How a building ‘works for people’ should be the priority question. This report provides further evidence that workplaces with clean air, natural daylight and engaging and adaptable layouts all contribute to making healthier, happier and more motivated individuals who create stronger, more resilient and profitable companies.”

Further findings highlighted in the study showed that ensuring staff members were able to control the temperature in their workplace greatly enhanced their mood and satisfaction.

In addition, reducing noise levels and increasing light decreased sick time and improved staff wellbeing scores.