When it comes to creating a productive office environment—it’s more than just four walls. According to a Cornell University study, even low-level noise in open-style offices can result in higher levels of stress and lower task motivation. If you’re going to go with an open office plan, be sure to think about where you place employees who operate at higher decibel levels. Also keep in mind placement of loud appliances such as copy machines.
Room temperature can directly influence productivity at work. Cornell University studied the effect of increasing temperatures in the workplace from 68 degrees to 77 degrees. Errors at the company fell by 44 percent and typing output increased 150 percent with the increased temperatures. Another study indicates that an office can also be too hot—with a loss in performance at temperatures higher than 75.2 degrees.
Nearly 60 percent of work interruptions are—you guessed it—thanks to the Internet. Yes, you can blame Fail Blog for not getting your work done. And don’t forget the time spent on social media, e-mail, and switching back and forth between on-screen applications. According to a survey by market research firm uSamp, while social media use can encourage coordination among employees, there’s no denying it’s a huge distraction.
Telephone calls, walk-in clients, that talkative colleague across the way: Unplanned conversations can have a dramatic affect on productivity in the workplace. Phone calls, talking with co-workers, and impromptu meetings make up 43 percent of work interruptions, according to a market research survey.
The design of office workstations is often linked to health, comfort, and productivity in the workplace. Chairs that are not adjustable and desks that are too small can cause sore backs and contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. A study coordinated by Health and Work Outcomes, an independent health research and consulting company for office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, found that individuals who received office ergonomic training and sat in a highly adjustable chair increased average productivity by 17.8 percent after a year.
The Wall Street Journal recently published findings from a number of worldwide studies suggesting the space around your workstation could affect not only your productivity, but the style of work you accomplish. Low ceilings encourage analytical thinking, while high ceilings can encourage abstract thought and creativity. Color and light can also change the way we think. Surrounding workers with red walls could stifle creativity, but fuel inside-the-box thinking for tasks that call for small details and accuracy. —Matt Rist