The Baby Boomers are retiring, and Gen Z is entering the workforce that Millennials are estimated to control 75 percent of by 2025. Throw in a healthy dose of ever-changing technology – and what’s a company to do to keep its employees productive?
And this is particularly sobering: The latest Wasting Time at Work Survey found that 89 percent of respondents admitted to wasting at least some time at work – up 20 percent from the preceding year – with 31 percent wasting roughly an hour a day.
Add to that the University of California, Irvine study that found productivity increases by 11 a.m. and wanes after 3 p.m.
So can office design trends really help maximize productivity?
Illuminating obstacles to productivity
Employees cite their physical environment as the most significant factor in impacting their ability to focus, and myriad studies indicate unhappiness with both cubicles and open floor plans. Distracting noise levels seem to be a problem with both designs, as well as a lack of privacy in open workspaces. Still, a Cornell University study found that open workspaces foster productivity, learning and camaraderie – plus it’s easier for natural light to flood the space.
Employers, take note:
- Lighting is critical to staying focused and inspired to create. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.
- Air quality can drastically affect the ability to focus and think clearly. OSHA estimates that poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion annually due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.
- Color has an impact on mood and brain function.
- Eighty-two percent of 1,000 workers surveyed by Office Depot said they are more productive when they are well-organized.
- Noise can affect the ability to stay on task.
Productivity-producing design trends
Studies have found that a well-designed office can increase productivity by about 20 percent – yet many employers still don’t consider workplace design a good business investment. Still, there are many improvements that can be made without breaking the budget to help rev up results.
- Bring the outside in - This is one of the hottest design trends, which is based on biophilia, or the human instinct to connect with nature. Biophilic designs have been shown to boost productivity. A Washington State University study found that people responded 12 percent faster on computer tasks when plants were in the room.
- Pay attention to lighting - Workers exposed to natural light slept an average of 46 minutes more each night, while windowless workers reported quality-of-life issues, including daytime dysfunction, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP. Not everyone can have access to a window, but blue lighting has been shown to improve performance.
- Create flexible multipurpose spaces - A community workstation or free-form lounge area can inspire collaboration – and movement through the office. A Harvard review suggests that pairing people of difference educational backgrounds and personalities can be effective.
- Create clusters of workstations for employees who work well together - A new study found that workers are more productive when they sit next to people who have complimentary work styles. This can also assist with the noise issue. In contrast, surrounding employees with the wrong people can bring productivity down.
- Get rid of the clutter - Create a space with storage solutions so everything has a place - including all those wires.
- Color-code spaces - Well-planned punches of color – without overdoing it - can punch up productivity. Blue helps people focus while yellow can stimulate creativity. Red evokes emotion and passion while green is preferred for those who work long hours.
- Encourage movement and exercise - Sedentary lifestyles could cost the world $90 billion in healthcare and lost productivity. Standing desks and ball chairs are design trends that can help – but companies probably needn’t go as far as a slide in the office.
With so much to consider, why not let the professionals at Beaux-Arts Group help you
determine the productivity-boosting design trends that are right for your company?