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Can productivity be improved by a decent office space?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013 | By Jacqueline Lehmann

What kind of difference to productivity can an office space make?


Are there practical things I can do to boost productivity?


One of the greatest threats to productivity is noise. In one survey, 57% of workers said background noise causes ‘major deterioration’ in their ability to concentrate.


Both dense open-plan working and cubicle working are notorious for ‘conversational distractions’. Options for reducing noise include carpeting, sound-absorbing furniture and acoustic ceilings.


Don’t try to turn your office into a hushed library zone, though – too quiet an atmosphere can inhibit creativity and collaboration. But perhaps create a quiet room or zone where people can go if they need to concentrate.


Air quality and natural light are important to staff wellbeing and productivity, and colours can make a difference. The standard thinking is that ‘cool’ colours such as blues and greens foster calm and clarity, so are good for meeting rooms. ‘Warm’ colours can promote creativity.


But if you’re serious about boosting productivity, think beyond the office space, and look at your employees’ whole working day. Are they arriving at work drained after a frustrating commute? Are they stressing about whether they’ll be in time to collect the kids from school or for meetings with customers?


If so, try introducing working practices that can help with this. For example, could staff shift their working hours to avoid traffic rush hour? Could they work closer to home or customers for some or all of the week?


Research by Regus in 2012 established a clear link between productivity and flexible working – i.e. giving employees some choice over where and when they work.


Nearly three-quarters (72%) of businesses said their company is more productive as a result of flexible working. And 63% said flexible working has made staff in their company feel more energised and motivated.


So before pouring money into a redesign of the office space, think about your office location. Are your team working at the places and times that suit them? Or could they improve their performance by working somewhere more convenient – whether that’s at home, at another branch of your company, or at another space such as a business centre?