How office design can solve the ‘low productivity riddle’ | Oaktree Interiors

It is understood that low productivity severely affects how successful a business is, so in order to solve the issue, many will undergo vast reviews of every aspect of their operation to find a solution. One aspect that perhaps is overlooked too often is the impact that office design has on employees.

Whether it’s because of costs, timing or simply the will to keep the status quo in fear of change, office interior improvements may be at the bottom of a business’s priorities. It’s important to understand though that as the place in which they have to produce their work, the set-up of the office and the facilities on offer all have a major bearing on how well a person is able to work. If a person is able to work in comfort, are inspired and feel driven, then a good rate of productivity will surely follow. So in any review of how a business operates, the impact that the office’s interiors have must always be considered.

How can office design be improved to raise productivity?

Even though the workplace will generally require people to work together, a large amount of office work needs to be done individually. Therefore, any improvements must be catered towards how the person is able to work, rather than them, having to change the way they work to suit any limitations offered by the workplace.

Here are some key aspects of office design that can be shaped in a better, more customised way:

  • The personal workspace. A disorganised workspace means a difficult and time-consuming existence. It can be easy to marry 'disorganisation' with 'clutter' but with clutter, there is a sense of organisation for some people. Studies have suggested that many creative people actually prefer their workspaces to be 'cluttered'; it suggests the person who works in the space has a sense of ownership over it, that they feel comfortable in what they're doing. In this case, it's more likely than not that they will achieve a higher rate of productivity.

    So instead of setting vast amounts of ground rules that employees may feel uncomfortable with, a business should instead think about streamlining and simplifying and giving their employees the freedom to work in a way they would want to. Any personal office workspace can be simplified by:
    • Filing any documents in a uniform system.
    • Keeping any items that are used frequently close by.
    • Recycle (or delete) any documents that are no longer needed.
  • Ergonomics. The aim of ergonomics is to improve the conditions under which a person performs their everyday activities in the workplace. Whilst aiding them in their work, ergonomics is also designed to minimise any health risks, such as strain and fatigue. In an office especially, a poor set up of desks and chairs can affect hands, wrists, joints and backs, leading to discomfort, injury and absence. Hardly helpful in the quest to raise productivity.

    An example of ergonomics in a typical office-based role, include:
    • Adjustable chairs and desks; giving people the opportunity to adjust the furniture they use, depending on how they like to work, instead of them (literally) moving out of their comfort zones to meet the demands of the furniture.
    • Giving employees the opportunity to use rests for their keyboard and mouse to ensure their hands are resting naturally and not having to strain to conform to the set-up of these items.
    • Using screen supports to position monitors correctly; giving employees the opportunity to find their ideal seated position.
    • Employing footrests if anyone cannot comfortably rest their feet on the floor naturally.
  • Environmental office design. It isn't just the furniture that they have to work from that affects an employee's health and wellbeing; the environment of the workplace itself has a big impact too. Common negative factors, that better office design can help with, include:
    • Poor air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems.
    • Insufficient lighting set-ups that may lead to eye strains, tiredness, headaches and stress.
    • High levels of noise (either from the inside or outside the office) that make it difficult for employees to concentrate on their work, communicate with their fellows, even talking to people on the phone.
  • The variety of working spaces. The classic view of an office is of a uniformly-designed room that is solely designed to group people together to work. The issue with this view has been that different people tend to work differently (shocker, we know); sometimes they may want/need to work alongside others in an environment that has been set-up for collaboration, other times they may need to work in quiet to concentrate and get things done. In recent years, forward-thinking businesses have recognised the need to provide variety within their buildings and as a result, their office design has been split between different working areas.

    The level of flexibility provided by the technology at our disposal in today's world has made zoning the office much easier. Just by using Wi-Fi, an employee can easily traverse between the different environments on offer according to how they feel at any one time; no longer will they have to feel 'forced' to work in conditions that they're struggling in. Ultimately, flexibility is the key to successful contemporary office design, as it's through flexibility that any employee can find their perfect way of working. Solve that clue and you'll more than likely have a highly-productive workplace.

Looking to improve the design of your office fit out to raise productivity? Get in touch with Oaktree Interiors!

If you’re thinking about improving the effect that your office interiors has on your employees, the expert team here at Oaktree are on hand to help.

For over 30 years, we have been designing and building bespoke office fit outs for a wide and varied client base; from small, local firms to large businesses and multinational chains. No matter the type and size of business, an office fit out that is designed to work alongside employees will always help productivity rates to rise.

If you would like to learn more about this and our completely free no-obligation consultation service, then please do not hesitate to give our friendly office design team a call on 0345 21 86955. Alternatively, you can send an e-mail to us at hello@oaktreeoffice.com

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