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5 design and facility ideas to boost workplace productivity

Feb 19, 2018 Workspace Design

Productivity is key to optimising workplace performance — and the design and facilities of work spaces play a significant role in increasing productivity, enhancing efficiency, and encouraging collaboration. We’re already experiencing open-plan offices and collaborative spaces, but what about science-backed design, environmental elements, and modular fit outs? Here are five design and facility ideas that can boost workplace productivity.

1. Mix it up

Look at how individuals use the workplace and focus on the tasks they engage with throughout the day. Then, equip them with the spaces they need to fulfil their activities — whether it’s working individually, collaborating on a project, or taking a break.

There should be quiet work nooks for introverts, communal tables for extroverts, private booths for executives, hot desks for creatives, and breakout areas for teams. Providing a variety of work and social spaces that are tailored to the habits and preferences of the entire workforce can improve productivity.


Communal tables and breakout areas promote collaboration and creativity. (Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash)


Quiet nooks are good for focused work. (Photo by Breather on Unsplash)


2. Bring the outdoors in

Bringing nature into the built environment is at the heart of biophilic design, a method of designing the places we live and work in to satisfy our innate affinity for and deep connection with nature. According to a report on the global impact of biophilic design in the workplace, workers in office environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, are six per cent more productive than those working in office spaces without these features.

For the Australian workplace, the report notes specific elements that contribute to higher productivity levels, such as using wood within office design and furnishings and providing windows with views of nature. Other natural elements that could be integrated into the workplace include potted plants and planter boxes, reclaimed wood panel installations, timber log desks and stools, and indoor vertical gardens.


Photo by Al Ghazali on Unsplash (Plants and natural light bring nature into the office.)


Plants, wood furniture, and nature-themed wallpaper bring the outdoors into the workplace. (Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash)

3. Create a flexible layout

Flexible spaces address the dynamic needs of an ever-changing workplace. By designing with flexibility in mind, workspaces become adaptable and can be repositioned with purpose.

For instance, large expansive rooms can double as event spaces, while casual lounge areas can be transformed into private spaces for one-on-one conversations or small group meetings. Use modular components like removable walls, movable desks, collapsible tables, mobile and adjustable furniture, partitions, and dividers.


An expansive meeting room can double as an event space. (Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash)


Partitions transform casual lounge areas into private meeting spaces. (Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels)

4. Embrace science

Employing science-based design creates more productive workplaces. Office spaces with optimal settings for light, noise, and temperature can increase productivity.

In the case of light, low levels lead to a higher likelihood of errors while too much light can decrease employee productivity. Use low-impact lighting or smart lighting that matches outdoor lighting conditions. Large windows also fill the room with more natural light.

When it comes to noise, even moderate levels can reduce workplace productivity. Acoustic design and facilities should take into account the interaction between the space, the people using it, and what they’re using it for. Acoustic wall panels can be utilised for meeting rooms to retain privacy, while ceiling panels in reception areas can be visually pleasing and produce a good sound environment for workers and visitors.

Fill the room with natural light but install blinds to control radiant heat. (Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash)

In the case of temperature, most Australian offices are at least two degrees colder than they should be, which could decrease cognitive function. To improve thermal comfort, design and facilities should incorporate adequate airflow and good ventilation. Install blinds or louvres to control direct sunlight and ensure that the space is climate controlled.


5. Use colour and texture

Sensory elements like colour and texture can enhance workplace productivity. According to the report on the global impact of biophilic design in the workplace, colours with a significant impact on workers’ productivity include blue, green, white, and yellow. For the Australian workplace, the use of blue colours can result in greater levels of productivity.

Joinery and finishes in vivid colours, walls painted in lively hues, decorative wallpapers, and art pieces add pops of colour to the surrounding workspaces. A range of textures creates atmosphere, but balance is important. For instance, a hardwood table can be paired with an even-surfaced, bright-coloured chair while desk carrels made from dark wood and metal provide an earthy, contemporary feel. Other elements that contribute texture to a workplace include textiles such as shag rugs and soft wool carpets, furniture like lounge chairs and lamps, and artwork like paintings and sculptures.


Shades of blue can increase productivity. (Photo by Yann Maignan on Unsplash)

Texture creates atmosphere while enhancing productivity. (Photo by Alexander Pemberton on Unsplash)


For more innovative solutions on improving workplace productivity, visit the new Smart Zone at Total Facilities, 18–19 April 2018 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. Register online for free here.

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