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Office Design – The Most Productive Layouts

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The design, type of furniture, and acoustics of an office all have a part to play in creating the optimum working environment - by paying attention to small issues, it is possible to enhance creativity and productivity from your employees.

In this article, we examine the best office layouts to inspire the workforce, and also the designs to avoid.

Traditional Designs

Over the last few decades there has been a trend to move into open-plan office environments because of the increased employee interaction this brings. However, numerous studies have shown that job satisfaction decreases and ill health actually increases in this setting, as opposed to working in older style, enclosed offices.

The problem is that although enclosed offices improve job satisfaction and privacy, they can hinder creativity. So, ideally the best layout would incorporate features that allow privacy while also encouraging a good level of creativity.

The Flex-Office

In recent years, innovative companies, particularly large tech firms such as Google and Apple have operated work spaces that fit the description of a flex-office. In many ways, it is hard to duplicate the exact layout of such a design, as the style is constantly evolving. However, there are standard features found in most flex workplaces:

* Communal workstations, where employees can sit, without a specific place being 'theirs'. This could be a long communal table with chairs, and a bank of plugs along the table centre
* More private, enclosed areas or offices where employees can retreat to work if they so desire
* Adjustable workstations to enable standing or sitting
* A soft seating area which can be used for work or downtime


The main emphasis is to give employees options about how they work whilst optimising the environment for creativity and productivity. The aim is that as job satisfaction increases, so will creativity along with increased effort and commitment.
Science has already demonstrated benefits – a study found that workers strongly preferred the ability to sit or stand at their workstation, while ill health can also be lessened by standing – neck and back pain were reduced by 54% in one experiment!
Noise & Visual Factors

Surprisingly, simple things like office colour can have a significant effect on employee emotions. In fact, research has helped to narrow down the mood states some colours can induce:

* Red – Good for creativity, but also elicits a stress reaction. Avoid for large areas
* Blue – calming and pleasing to staff


* White – accepted well by most employees and helps performance



The science regarding acoustics is very simple - a large amount of background noise will disrupt any workplace. This could range from conversational distraction to machinery being operated.

Substantial levels of noise can increase employee errors, leading to more disciplinary action, and causing more sick leave. Employees therefore need the option of sound minimal areas for work that involves deep concentration.

A study found that workers strongly preferred the ability to sit or stand at their workstation, while ill health can also be lessened by standing – neck and back pain were reduced by 54% in one experiment!

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