Office Productivity: 8 Science-Backed Design Tips

As a business owner, the productivity and comfort of your employees is of utmost importance. Here are eight design tips for your office that are proven to boost productivity in the workplace.
 

1. Plants

You probably have a plant or two in your office, but if you don’t, definitely consider sprucing up your office with a few more. Besides making your office feel cozy, the health and productivity benefits of office plants are plentiful.

Researchers from Harvard found that employees working in an office with plants had a 6% boost in cognition and in sleep quality, and 30% fewer sickness-related absences than a control group without plants. Another study found that employees working in offices decorated with plants had a 15% increase in productivity.

Bureau recommends plants from The Sill, which are easy for beginners and ship nationwide.

2. Scent

Another simple easy and affordable productivity hack to introduce to your office is aromatherapy. Studies have found that the scent of rosemary increases alertness and helps with memory, as does cinnamon. Smelling lemon has been found to improve cognitive function, while citrus and jasmine stimulate your nervous system and will help keep you awake. Finally, peppermint and pine are invaluable for increasing attention.

Candles from Otherland come in a variety of scents, which you can mix and match to create your own three pack.

3. Temperature

Working in an office that’s too cold or too hot can be more than just uncomfortable: it can seriously impede the productivity of your team. Based on twenty-four studies on productivity and temperature, researchers say the optimal office temperature is 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the women in your office have been complaining that the office is too cold, you should be especially considerate of their needs: a study published just last week found that colder temperatures caused a decrease in women’s scores on math and verbal exams.  

You can easily swap out the thermostats in your office with a smart thermostat, like this one from Nest, which offers energy-saving features and precise temperature regulation.

4. Air Quality

Bad air quality is harder to measure than seeing plants or smelling peppermint, but it can definitely impact productivity. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that poor indoor air quality costs employers $15 billion a year due to worker inefficiency and sick leave, and even calculated a 3% loss in productivity from bad indoor air quality.

On the flip side, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard found that employees working in a “green” building with well ventilated air scored 61% higher on cognitive function tasks. Another study found that spending just $40 per employee each year on improving air quality results in an 8% increase in performance. The best way to ensure air quality is picking a building with a modern and well-maintained central filtration system, but personal air filters are a great option as well.

Molekule’s air purifier uses nanotechnology to to destroy a range of pollutants from dust, pollen, and pet dander to microscopic pollutants like mold, viruses, bacteria, and gaseous chemicals.

5. Ergonomics

Office ergonomics play an important role in boosting efficiency and productivity in employees. Specifically, research has found that providing employees with adjustable chairs results in a 17.7% increase in productivity, and the researchers note that the benefits of doing so are 25 times greater than the costs of purchasing them.

Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that implementing ergonomic solutions in your office decreases the likelihood of employees experiencing musculoskeletal disorders. Furnishing with ergonomic chairs and desks is one of the best ways to invest in the long-term health of your employees, but even creating a checklist of simple ergonomics exercises and best practices in a visible place can go a long way.

Featuring seven points of adjustment, the Bureau Ergonomic Chair delivers an exceptional range of ergonomic support for bodies of all shapes and sizes.

6. Noise

Besides for being annoying, constant noise in your work environment can actually be harmful: one study found that workers in an automobile plant had significantly higher blood pressure and heart rates than their co-workers who weren’t exposed to as much noise.

Another study found that listening to ambient noise in the background boosts creativity and promotes abstract thinking, but only if it’s not too loud. When designing your office space, try and incorporate soft materials that will absorb sound, especially if you’re in an open office plan.

Bureau Privacy Panels come in three colors and provide visual privacy and sound suppression to make an open office feel more like home.

7. Light

Chances are you’ve heard that sunlight is beneficial for boosting your mood and productivity, which is why you should try to choose an office space with lots of windows and glass so that light can disperse. But if you’re stuck without windows, you can mimic sunlight using the right light bulb. The color of light bulbs range on a scale measured in Kelvins, with warmer colors around 2,000K, daylight colors hovering around 5,000K, and cooler colors approaching 7,000K.

Researchers have found that people are more productive when working in cooler, blue-enriched environments, with one study determining 17,000K as the optimal light color for your office. But blue lights have an unwelcome downside: while they increase attentiveness in the day, exposure to blue light in the later hours disrupts your body’s production of melatonin, which is what helps you sleep at night.

LED lights from LIFX  are controlled using an app, which allows you to set the color temperature of your preference.

8. Color

The color of your office walls and furniture can impact worker productivity and mood. Red, for instance, is an energizing color that stimulates the nervous system and increases your heart rate, and is best used in areas where employees are working on detail-oriented assignments. Blue, meanwhile, is considered to be an intellectual and calming color that boosts concentration and creativity, and is best used in areas for brainstorming.

While yellow is an emotional color that can boost confidence and self-esteem, too much of it can increase anxiety, so researchers recommend not using it in conference rooms. Green is understood to be the most balanced and reassuring color, and also boosts creativity. Finally, stay away from too much white: besides for being bland, its clinical feel can impede productivity.

Clare offers designer-curated colors that come with an easy box of supplies, so you can make painting your office a fun team activity.

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