How to design an office that promotes productivity in the workplace

Did you know that how an office is designed has a direct impact on the productivity levels of the staff within it? Remarkably so, too. All aspects of office design from the colour of the walls to how a worker arranges their desk will have a direct impact on the productivity of the office and, therefore, the business. The following guide contains the most important considerations to factor in when designing or decorating the office space to increase its productivity.

The colour of the walls

It's obvious really. The walls surround the office and therefore, the inhabitants within that office are forced to look at the wall colour through their working day. It can be used to an advantage. Many pieces of research have linked colours to all sorts of psychological traits, including mood and productivity. Research generally suggests that blue or green are the colours to choose when aiming to increase productivity. Overall, this stands true, though be careful as these colours tend to work better in an environment demanding high levels of stimulation and concentration, such as working in accounting or investments. Blue may not work so well for an office requiring their workers to be more laterally creative or artistic. These office spaces need to think about yellows and oranges. Variations aside, there are some definite rules. Steer clear of blacks and browns as these colours have been shown to bring out 'lazy' and possibly depressive traits in people. Red, too, can be too over-stimulating (though therefore may be very suitable for a fitness studio!). Branding and colour are crucial when considering a new office fit out.


Lightning is important. A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design discovered that 68% of employees complain about the lighting in their office. Human beings are designed by nature to be outdoors, not to be cooped up at a desk for most of the day. Take advantage of natural light where possible, including as many windows as you can into the design. Where windows are not possible, decorate the office space with pictures and paraphernalia that will 'bring the outside in'. A simple painting on a wall, a mountain scene screen saver and a few office plants (pathos and anthurium work particularly well indoors) can all work wonders in improving productivity rates. Ensure that all artificial lighting has been explored to offer 'therapy lighting' (lighting that works at high intensity to give the impression of daylight) where possible, improving stimulation and counteracting fatigue.Computer lighting is also relevant in this discussion. According to scientists the best type of light for office computers use is blue LED lighting. Studies show that those exposed to blue-based, LED-backlit computers produce less melatonin, feel less tired, and perform better on tests of attention than those who use normal lighting on their computers.

Desk space ergonomics

Loss of work hours through bad backs and other musculoskeletal ailments are becoming more and more common. Aside from the loss of direct hours, office workers suffering with pain or discomfort whilst at work are less likely to be as productive as they possibly could be whilst they are at work. When completing an office fit out, ensure employee comfort is a priority. There are a wide range of products on the market to combat posture and work-related ailments. Height adjustable desks, chairs with inbuilt lumbar support and keyboards that minimise repetitive strain injury are just a few of the more commonly used items available. In a recent study in to comfort at the workplace, 80% of the participants who received a height-adjustable workstation preferred it over a traditional workstationand their productivity increased as a result. Consider working with a specialist in this area to advise on the best approach. Even better, have your workers individually assessed to determine what would work best for them. After all, everybody has different needs. In addition to the desk space design, allow space in the office for workers to take regular walks. Regular walking breaks ('leg stretches') throughout the days have been proven to decrease stress levels and increase productivity.


Humans need to be kept stimulated and interested. A standard, all white, symmetrical 'cube' office space will do nothing to inspire the people working within its walls. Allowing several different spaces will tick a variety of boxes when looking to boost productivity. Not least, allowing workers a private workspace to access where possible will allow those that require a bit of quiet to focus better or conduct a meeting without interruption. 17.2% of people believe that a quiet area in the office boosts productivity and although this isn’t a massive figure, you do need to cater for everyone. A separate area for lunch is a must and more and more big companies are experimenting with the boundaries of 'relaxation spaces' (again, proven to increase productivity) with dedicated game and relaxation areas, with the main idea being not only to allow workers to de stress but also to get to know their colleagues better, possibly increasing idea sharing.


Lastly, however good the office space is, the office worker is only going to be as fast as the technology he or she is working with. If the office hasn't got the latest software, quickest internet signal or fastest mobile network then the minutes lost are going to be very difficult to recover. It doesn’t even need to cost the company any money in some cases. One good way of getting the best technology in to the office is to invite your employees to bring their own devices in. Besides, 49% of employees say they are more productive using their own devices.

By following these tips, you are sure to find yourself with a more productive workforce. However, we are aware that businesses don’t operate with a bottomless pit of money so incorporating all of them could be a problem. Start off by making a priority list, build from there and reap the rewards.