Corporate wellness has become an integral part of the work culture today. Companies lay great emphasis on employee productivity, the enhancement of which is often considered the key to success. However, what the industry often overlooks, is the implications of good office design, in employee well-being. While corporate wellness programmes are vital in boosting productivity, these are periodic activities. Therefore, creating a conducive work environment through corporate culture, and more importantly, through office design, is a key consideration when talking about increasing employee productivity. If close review is made of the different facets of office interiors, one can notice that the smallest of details can affect employee productivity by substantial amounts.
Perhaps, the most important part of office design, is the plan itself, to divide different spaces. This will determine the demarcation between work and casual areas, thus making it a pivotal aspect that affects employee productivity. A cluttered work area with an excessive number of cubicles can create the illusion of a lack of space, even in large offices, making it unfavourable for work. However, excessive space between cubicles can also lead to unproductivity, due to lethargy. Additionally, the inclusion of basic amenities like hygienic washrooms, cafeteria spaces, and more, is important for employees to take occasional breaks, so as to ensure their mental and physical well-being.
The optimum utilization of natural light, as well as light fixtures, is integral to employee productivity. Workspaces that utilize maximum natural light through large windows and open spaces, are typically the ones where the staff is considerably more productive, and feel healthier in. Poor lighting leads to multiple issues like headaches, eye strains, and increased lethargy, which can adversely affect an employee’s mental capacity, and therefore, their well-being. The kind of lighting used is also extremely important in boosting productivity. For example, yellow or orange lighting can actually induce sleepiness in employees, while white lighting leads to more alertness.
Optimal ventilation systems that allow free flow of good quality air has a huge impact on an individual’s health. The lack of adequate ventilation can even cause a sense of claustrophobia for employees, which will greatly hamper their ability to work. By adding adequate windows, as well as centralised air-conditioning systems, office design can be a significant contributor to increasing an employee’s attention span, and their ability to focus.
The right level of noise is extremely important to foster productivity. For example, loud, noisy places, will distract employees from their tasks, while complete silence might make them too self-conscious to focus on work. Carpeted floors are a great way to reduce the noise created, especially in busy offices, where there is a lot of activity. Certain job roles, however, do require a space away from the general hustle, to conduct meetings or important calls, and thus, it is imperative to create separate ‘quiet zones’, to create a place for such functions.
Studies have shown that every colour evokes a different emotion within people. Bedrooms are seldom painted red due to its bright and busy nature that causes excitement, instead of the calm and peace expected in a bedroom. Similarly, office spaces also require optimal colour scheme choices, to have a good impact on employees. The usage of only white or grey hues is often perceived as boring or sad, making employees feel dull throughout their day, while hues of red are considered to cause too much frenzy. Shades of blue, green, or other cool colours, is a comfortable colour scheme to improve focus, as well as bring freshness to the room. Unless the company’s logos define it, the best colours to use in office spaces are neutral colours.
Employees today spend almost 1/3rd of their days at work, and therefore, the way the workstations are built, hold great prominence in an employee’s well-being. Many individuals often develop back and neck ailments, due to the lack of ergonomic chairs and a comfortable desk layout that allows them to work. Additionally, sufficient drawer space to avoid desk cluttering, is also vital, to create a positive work environment and foster greater focus at work.
While great importance lies in the design of comfortable individual workstations, there is also a need for the optimal number of group areas, for interaction between employees. By keeping individual workstations too far away, organizations are unknowingly promoting a sedentary lifestyle among their employees, which lead to major health risks for them. Therefore, it is important to create collaboration spaces that are more informal, to allow employees a space to move around, take a break, or interact with other teammates, to discuss ideas and projects.
In conclusion, even if an organization hires the most hardworking and sincere employees possible, the lack of a productive and well-designed office space can greatly affect their productivity, in the long run. With the shift towards focusing on employee well-being, to boost an organization’s capabilities, becoming the new mantra, office design also needs to be created from an employee perspective, instead of from an organization’s perspective.
Inputs by Jasmine Daruwala, Managing Director, Seedle by DC Group