The relationship between office layout and productivity
Technological resources, compensation and relationships between employers and staff are among the most obvious determinants when it comes to productivity in the workplace. But one lesser-known factor often goes overlooked: office layout.
The science behind the claim
The notion that the layout of the workspace directly affects productivity was introduced to the world in a scientific context in 1985. Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister, software engineers, management experts and founders of The Atlantic Systems Guild, conducted an experiment that revealed new implications for office layout.
This early study, the most exhaustive of its kind, laid the foundation for a new approach to office space planning. Employers became increasingly aware that it’s not simply salary and experience that determine how efficiently employees work, but also the general feel of the work environment.
“The top workers outperformed average employees two fold in terms of productivity.”
The research project asked 600 software developers from 92 companies to fill out surveys before competing in the “Coding War Games,” which allowed the researchers to measure and compare work performance. The results were stunning: Those whose surveys reflected more positive feelings about their workspace were the most productive. In fact, these top workers outperformed the average employee by more than two-fold.
What makes for a more productive office space?
Many factors come into play when it comes to creating a productive workspace. A 2009 study conducted by researchers at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology looked more deeply at the intricacies that link workplace layout to productivity. By surveying 31 banking branches from more than a dozen financial institutions in Abbottabad, Pakistan, they discovered irrefutable proof that spatial arrangement, furniture, lighting, noise and other factors directly affect employee productivity.
“The findings of this study show that office design is very vital in terms of increasing employees’ productivity,” lead researcher Dr. Amina Hameed wrote in the study. “Comfortable and ergonomic office design motivates the employees and increases their performance substantially.”
With that in mind, business owners and administrators must take each of these aspects into consideration during the office space planning process. That may mean incorporating bright yet warm and inviting lighting, reducing noise pollution and clutter, and working with an interior designer to choose furnishings that are stylish and welcoming without sacrificing efficiency. Ergonomic furniture is one of the key components of a more productive workplace, and Office Designs offers a wide variety of solutions to help meet these needs. For example, the Herman Miller Canvas Benching Application with Monitor Supports is a workstation that provides optimal comfort and minimal strain on the neck and back.
Finding the right office layout for your business
These results suggest that the layout of the workspace is essential to employee productivity. That’s not to say that there exists a set of specific ingredients for the most efficient office, as every workplace will have a different atmosphere, set of priorities and company culture. After all, the layout of a software company’s office may not be the best option for, say, an advertising agency or insurance provider.
However, the floor plan and design of the workspace should not be neglected when it comes to initiatives for enhancing productivity. Small businesses may not have the means to hire a team of design experts to ensure the highest levels of productivity, but Office Designs strives to provide solutions for businesses of all sizes: The leader in high-end furniture now offers clients space planning services at no extra charge.