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How workplace design can boost productivity

April 16, 2018


Type: Advice for Businesses

Sophie Foster is Associate Workplace Consultant at workplace specialists, TSK. Find out more about how TSK create workplaces that enhance businesses by supporting people at .


Since the financial crisis, productivity has continued to fall and while it has begun to nudge upwards, the UK is some distance from meeting pre-recession levels.


The issue of productivity continues to be at the top of nearly every business’ agenda as companies are looking to drive growth against an uncertain backdrop. Of course, there are macro issues at play, but there are a number of changes a business can make to improve its productivity within its own four walls – quite literally.


What approach should businesses take?


It’s not as simple as sprucing up an office with a lick of paint or impressive interior design to motivate your team. It starts with engaging employees and working with them to find out what enables them to perform their role and be productive. Some of this is about setting the right stage – the environment in which your team will thrive. For a truly people-centred space, you need to engage the entire team from the start of the process and capture insight that will strategically lead your workplace.


Every type of role and job function – across all levels – needs to be consulted on the types of settings they need to be able to perform their jobs and be at their best. By engaging employees throughout the whole process and into the future, organisations will maximise the value of the investment in workplace design. The environment should be designed around requirements set out by the people who work in it, so every square metre is effective and adds value to the organisation’s balance sheet.


Building a human-centric workplace is about recognising that people perform different activities and need a variety of settings within the workplace. This can be delivered through Activity Based Working; a proven strategy that provides employees with a choice of how and where to work through different settings that support whatever task they may be doing at any given time. For example, focus rooms for individual work and private conversations, tech-enabled communal areas for collaboration and social spaces for spontaneous meetings, socialising and respite from work. Designing your workplace in this way, giving employees autonomy over where they do their work creates an effective environment that will improve satisfaction and productivity.

Personal productivity


by independent workplace effectiveness assessor, Leesman, found that 93% of survey respondents said individual, desk-based, focused work is the most important activity to them in the workplace. Employees who said their workplace provides them with settings that support individual, concentrative work also felt that their workplace enables them to work productively, linking the ability to carry out individual work to personal productivity.


We all need time to think and focus, with space to reflect on our conversations, meetings and ideas and get them down on paper. Workplaces that provide employees with the private, low-noise settings they need to do these activities enhance their employees’ sense of personal productivity.


Collaboration counts


Well-designed spaces also encourage teams to work more closely to achieve business objectives – whether that’s cross-selling the company’s services, upskilling teams or creating consistency of culture. The workplace should enhance and encourage every interaction.


In practical terms, this might look like bringing an entire organisation together on one floor, creating a social space or breakout areas for teams to collaborate and innovate.


Collaborative environments also help to foster positive relationships and workplace culture, enhancing employee wellbeing. A happy workforce is likely a healthy workforce. And a healthy workforce is a healthy, productive business. It is essential for organisations to create environments that support employees to feel happy and valued and, in turn, motivated in the workplace. This starts with getting the basics right, including lighting, heating and noise levels, and can be taken a step further with features that enhance the employee experience. For example, exercise and shower facilities increasingly appear on both business’ and employees’ wish-lists for an effective office environment.


The bottom line


Our surroundings are fundamental to the way we perform and feel so it is important that workplaces support people to work to the best they can.


Future-focused companies consider property and workplace as a real asset as opposed to a straight cost and as a tactical tool in competitive advantage.


When approached correctly, workplace design can have a measurable impact on productivity as it plays a crucial role in motivating effective employees who have a working environment that meets their physical, practical and emotional needs.


The key is creating a workplace that allows people to achieve more – both personally and professionally. Provide employees with what they need to be productive, and the business and its stakeholders will all see the benefit.