The Science Behind the Perfect Workspace

The Science Behind the Perfect Workspace on

Seven ways your office setup is harming productivity.

You’ll spend years of your life working in the same space. If you don’t think that has a psychological impact on productivity, science is here to change your mind.

There’s an optimal setup for being productive at the office, and fact-based studies back it up. Here are seven ways your office setup is robbing you of the best work you can do.

Stop Being the Office Design “Control Freak”

If you want to see productivity skyrocket, let go of enforcing workspace design. Allow employees to take ownership of their workspace areas.

Employees who have the freedom to arrange their office areas can be more than 30% more productive. They also get a deeper feeling of alignment with your company.

This doesn’t mean relinquishing complete control and letting chaos reign. It can be as simple as allowing for personal touches like plants and artwork. Show that you’re a partner in the process. Give employees a small budget to furnish workspaces.

Embrace the Circle

Layouts and furniture that is curved and rounded create an environment linked to positive emotions. It fosters creativity. If you happen to be responsible for employee safety, this also helps cut down on accidents.

Studies show that people prefer curved, rounded environments. It triggers more activity in brain regions associated with aesthetic appreciation. Creativity increases.

Consider arranging work areas in circles. Employees who sit in rows tend to think more in terms of individuality. One study shows that employees who sit in circles find they tend to think more in terms of a team.

Let There be Light

Color, too. Both illumination and colors can have a drastic impact on employee productivity. Do you want to pump up performance and generate new ideas? Add blue or green hues to your workspace. Do you need your staff to focus on details? Go with red.

If your company is all about creativity and generating ideas, consider toning down any harsh overhead lighting. Go for sunlight if your staff must focus on analytical thinking.

Bring on the Plants

Not fake silk ones; get the real deal. Scientific studies show that plants in the office lower stress levels. Green living things also help us recover more quickly from demanding activities. There’s also growing evidence that plants in the office go a long way toward purifying the air we breathe.

Don’t stop with bringing some of nature indoors. Take advantage of the views from your office window, especially if they look out on a natural landscape. Studies show it has a positive effect on employee mental health.

What if your building is just another beanstalk in an urban jungle? Encourage your employees to take regular breaks with a stroll to the nearest green space.

Learn to Be Okay with Messy Desks

Do you judge employee organization by the way they keep their desks? Time to part ways with that idea. It runs against studies showing that a cluttered desk does not equate to a cluttered mind. Other studies show that orderly surroundings can be an obstacle to coming up with new ideas.

Warm Up to Higher Heating Bills

For starters, think about the message a thermostat in a cage sends to employees. This doesn’t mean allowing the office temperature to be set by whoever wants to change it. But you will find a clear benefit to allowing for a warmer temperature.

There’s research showing that moving from cool to warm increases employee accuracy. Check out this study from Cornel University about what happened to typing errors and output when the temperature was increased to 77 degrees from a chilly 68.

According to the study, you’ll have a higher utility bill. But when you factor in the higher productivity, you end up saving about $2 per worker, per hour.

Add Some Common Scents

The general consensus is that you want your office environment to have a neutral scent. That’s better than the smell of burnt popcorn from the break room microwave, for sure.

But there’s research suggesting that employees make fewer mistakes when exposed to pleasing natural scents. Typists exposed to a lemon scent made 54% fewer mistakes. Jasmine produced a reduction of 33%. Lavender lent itself to a 20% decrease.

Common Sense, Not a Crazy Budget

A professional office designer might sound like a luxury. It’s their job to overhaul your workspace so employees have a healthier and more productive day. You get the benefit of their expertise. You get what you pay for.

But their keen eye is guided by common sense. They’ll start with removing these 7 productivity obstacles. You can start this process yourself. Most aren’t expensive fixes. It’s better than the status quo, and you’ll see a return on the investment.