If you've never given much thought to how the look of your office impacts the team’s work, it is probably time to think about it, because office design can play a role in your team’s productivity. Following are five ideas to consider that could make your staff happier and able to do their jobs better.

1. Make use of natural lighting

A 2018 study1 conducted by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell, found that office workers who moved from artificial lighting to natural light environments reported an 84 percent drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision. These types of symptoms are major productivity killers.

Hedge maintains that optimizing the amount of natural light in an office "significantly improves health and wellness among workers, leading to gains in productivity," and that "as companies increasingly look to empower their employees to work better and be healthier, it is clear that placing them in office spaces with optimal natural light should be one of their first considerations."

The study also found that more natural light translates to more alert employees, with workers in offices with smart glass (which controls heat and light intake) reporting a 10 percent decrease in drowsiness. Another finding was that enhanced individual performance is directly tied to access to natural light, with a 2 percent increase in productivity for workers sitting close to a window optimized for daylight exposure.

2. Try pods

IKEA, whose very brand is deeply tied to design, recently made headlines when its Space 10 "innovation lab" experienced a redesign to its own open office plan. As a Fast Company article2 on the office refresh explains, the design utilizes "modular pods," which are described as a cross between an open desk cluster and a cubicle, with each pod fitting a small group of desks belonging to one team.

Walls with acoustic panels provide some privacy and reduce noise, and additional panels can be added for those who require an even quieter atmosphere. Panels can also be removed so the office is in view, if that is the preference.

3. Design different areas based on job expectations

Many business owners design their office around a particular look or style that appeals to them personally. This is understandable, since you've put a lot of work and thought into how you want your business to operate, as well as how you want it to be presented to both employees and visitors. However, in order to boost productivity, it may be better to tailor different parts of the office to suit individual employee preferences.

This approach can help boost morale and motivation among employees, but it can also cater to individuals’ needs to keep them in the right frame of mind to get the work done to the best of their ability. For example, some employees may prefer a standing desk set-up, especially if they have spinal health concerns, while others will be more comfortable sitting.

Beyond simple preferences, not everyone functions the same way, and different roles may require different set-ups.

4. Try a flexible design

Jeff Pochepan, President at Strong Project, recommends going a step further and considering a totally flexible office where "the work is where the laptop is."3 The idea is that employees are free to set up what best suits them on any given day or even any given moment. As he notes, this design style is ideal for co-working situations. It can also save the business owner some money.

"The cost-savings of a flexible workspace are worth it,” says Pochepan. "Flexible office spaces give business owners access to only the square footage they need, with the fluidity to turn that space into everything their employees need.” This is one of the reasons co-working spaces have taken off. Employers don't tie themselves down to a long-term lease and most co-working spaces furnish the essentials in office equipment for them.

5. Consider letting employees decorate their own spaces

Even if you don't go the full flexible route or allow for major differences from workspace to workspace, giving employees some amount of freedom to decorate their own area can help them feel more positive about their working environment.

Whatever design changes you decide to make, if you need financing to help you get the job done, consider a business loan4 from Nevada State Bank.

1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/study-natural-light-is-the-best-medicine-for-the-office-300590905.html

2. https://www.fastcompany.com/90312321/heres-how-ikeas-innovation-lab-redesigned-its-own-open-plan-office

3. https://www.inc.com/jeff-pochepan/first-came-cubicles-then-open-offices-now-meet-new-flexible-office-design.html?cid=search

4. Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. See a banker for details.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC