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How Your Office Environment Impacts Productivity and Performance

Posted by Insightlink on 08/11/17

When we focus on methods by which to improve employee engagement levels, and how to boost productivity, we tend to think about performance management processes such as regular performance discussions and clear personal development objectives. We might also consider benefits such as flexibility and casual dress codes.

All of these elements are critical considerations, but what you might not know is that the physical office environment is just as important when it comes to improving employee performance.

Below are just a few ways in which the space around you — from lighting to temperature — can seriously influence the way you work.

Good lighting can make all the difference

A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design found that 68% of employees complain about the lighting in their offices. This is something we should be paying far more attention to, considering our sensitivity towards light and the impact it can have on our moods and behaviors.

In the winter, when we experience lower levels of daylight, our vitamin D levels plummet, which can cause depression and weak immune systems, which in turn leads to higher levels of absenteeism. As diurnal creatures, we humans need a lot of exposure to natural light. It keeps us productive and effective, so those of us who spend hours in windowless offices run the risk of developing seasonal affective disorder.

Ensuring your office has a lot of natural light will lead to calmer, more creative, positive employees. Natural light has been proven to be beneficial in terms of health and productivity, so let the sunshine in and keep your employees performing to standard.

Improved air quality can boost performance

It has been proven that poor ventilation air quality in buildings can seriously decrease productivity and morale, which indicates that this is quite a serious performance management consideration. We need a steady supply of oxygen to our brains in order to function and be effective, and the more oxygen we’re exposed to, the better we work.

Research has shown that stale office air makes employees less productive and good air quality can improve cognitive performance by a remarkable 61%, while also reducing the number of headaches. To improve air quality, keep windows open if possible, which will allow good circulation and remove stale air. You can also introduce office plants which will absorb toxins and produce more oxygen. Furthermore, make sure you regularly inspect and clean air ducts.

Reconsider open-plan offices

Incredibly, open-plan offices might be counterintuitive to a productive workplace. They have been found to erode an employee’s sense of psychological privacy, which in turn reduces employee focus and creativity. They have also been linked with lower levels of morale and increased absenteeism. This makes sense when you think about the number of distractions that accompany open-plan offices. All things considered, it would be best for businesses to take on the real-estate costs and upgrade their workspaces in order to enhance performance.

Consider use of color in the office

Interestingly, the choice of color on your walls could make a huge difference to the energy levels and productivity of your employees. A University of Texas study showed that for women, being exposed to white, beige, and gray offices induced depression, while purple and orange offices brought on feelings of sadness for men. Color can also seriously impact our productivity.

The best colors to opt for are low-level wavelength colors such as blue and green, which improve focus and energy. You should also consider yellow — a color which evokes a sense of optimism and energy. Try to avoid red — a high-wavelength color that promotes a sense of panic and alarm.

Art and personal touches

Research conducted Exeter University’s School of Psychology recently discovered that employees who are given freedom to decide the design and layout of their workspaces were happier, healthier, and 32% more productive. This means that a gesture as small as allowing employees to display pictures and decorate their desks with plants can result in more empowered, content employees.

Temperature can distract and impair performance

It has been shown that when office temperatures are too low, employees not only make more errors, but they also get more distracted, resulting in a cost of 20% per hour, per employee. One source suggests that 80% of employees complain about office temperature and that 29% of employees spend between 10 to 30 minutes each working day unproductive due to their discomfort. Most studies reflect the fact that the ideal office temperature ranges between 70 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit if the aim is to improve worker productivity. This temperature range would keep most employees content, and it could save businesses a lot of money eventually.

Access to modern technology

We live in a technological age, and businesses are increasingly using software in order to spur motivation and engage their employees. In such a fast-paced, dynamic environment, old-fashioned paper-and-pen methods are no longer effective. They’re time-consuming and frustrate employees, particularly millennials who grew up alongside technology.

These days, companies are making use of team collaboration software and performance management software to provide real-time feedback, track personal development objectives, and organize one-on-ones with management. Modern software is also making it easier to incorporate remote working into the average business, ensuring everyone remains connected and up to date on pressing issues and progress.

Employee experience is becoming increasingly important, and managers are taking note. We need to be mindful of an employee’s environment, and how it might impact the way they perceive their company and work. By making small tweaks and remaining mindful of our physical surroundings, you have the power to turn good employees’ great and to develop a reputation as a dedicated, conscientious company.

About the Author: Stuart Hearn is an expert in the field of performance management, with over 20 years of experience in HR. He is the founder and CEO of Clear Review — a performance management software system that aims to improve overall company productivity and performance.

About Insightlink:  Insightlink Communications is a leader in full service employee surveys and offers a range of employee survey products and services to fit their client's needs. With over 22 years of experience, Insightlink's reputation has been built on giving organizations the knowledge they need to create effective change using their acclaimed employee research, analytics, benchmarking and survey methodologies. Insightlink's expertise in data collection reporting and analytics takes the pressure off organizations that find data overwhelming and daunting creating reports that are digestible and understandable, simple and easy to understand for organizations of any size and experience level. For more information please contact us at 866-802-8095 ext 705 or visit our website here.


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