Productivity and GTD

4 Types of Work Environments and How to Optimize Them for Productivity

AUTHOR: Kayla Matthews
Work space optimization

The quality of your workspace can have a lot to do with how your employees work. A bad workplace environment can cause distraction, frustration and even long-term mental distress in your employees — all of which are bad for your company’s bottom line. A good environment, on the other hand, can inspire creative ideas, motivate focused work and make your office a place your employees actually look forward to spending time.

Many large companies are realizing the link between environment and productivity, and they have started searching for the ideal office design. Google and other tech companies have led this revolution by implementing open offices and other unconventional layouts. Though researchers have noted the drawbacks of open office plans, this layout’s growing use shows a cultural desire to change the way we work to be happier and more productive in the digital age.

If you want to boost spirits and increase productivity in your office, rethinking your office design is a great way to start. However, to build your best office using the space you have, you need to understand the types of environments that underperform and cause productivity to lag.

Here are four common types of problem offices and how to optimize them for increased productivity.

1. Dark and Drab Dungeon Offices

Bad lighting can cause your employees to suffer both physical and mental health effects such as headaches, eye strain and even depression. Likewise, a lack of color can lower productivity and quash inspiration. Luckily, fixing up a dark and colorless workspace is pretty simple.

How to Optimize the Space: To bring light into your office, open doors and blinds to let natural light flow through the building. Additionally, consider brightening the space with table and floor lamps. Some desk lamps allow users to adjust the tone of the light for increased productivity. Next, add color. Different colors have different psychological effects, so use this to your advantage. Paint walls, put up artwork and generally make the office more aesthetically pleasing so that employees have something to refresh them.

2. Cluttered Offices With No Organization

Though you likely need to keep a lot of materials in the office for your employees to do their jobs, leaving clutter lying around can tank productivity. Employees lose time looking for misplaced items and rummaging through filing cabinets, and desk clutter can draw attention away from work. It’s no wonder that clearing up clutter is one of the easiest ways small business owners increase productivity.

How to Optimize the Space: Even if you don’t have the time or budget to do a total office update, you can probably make a few easy changes to organization. First, try going paperless. Not only will this reduce clutter and make jobs involving paperwork faster, but it’s also good for the environment, which has been shown to benefit productivity. Next, consider the number of knick-knacks lying around. If desks are cluttered with unnecessary decorative items, garbage or remnants of old projects, it could be causing distraction. Make sure to provide everyone with plenty of out-of-sight storage.

3. Loud and Distracting Open Offices

Though open offices have been a popular trend in recent years, these office spaces definitely don’t work for every company. The noise and constant movement can be distracting, and the lack of privacy can prevent employees from doing their best deep work. Though open office layouts can allow you to maximize space efficiently, you should be aware of the drawbacks and take measures to prevent them from disrupting your company’s productivity.

How to Optimize the Space: Most companies don’t have room in their offices to give every employee a private office, so most will have to make do with a good-size cubicle or a communal desk. That’s ok! By providing your employees with noise-canceling headphones to reduce distraction and creating several empty, secluded work spaces for employees to use periodically when needed, you can make this layout work. If you have an open office, ask your employees what they like about it and what they don’t, and make adjustments accordingly.

4. Offices That Trap Employees Behind Desks

Though your employees will likely need to spend most of their time sitting at a desk or computer, periodic movement in the work day is essential to productivity. Movement improves posture and encourages collaboration, which could make your workers happier and more productive.

How to Optimize the Space: To encourage movement in your office, create spaces dedicated to certain activities. Hold meetings in a central hub, place pieces of technology in different rooms and provide couches and movable furniture to encourage employees to shake it up.

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By harnessing the power of your environment, you can make your office a hub of energy and productivity while boosting the happiness of your employees — and probably yourself, too.

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