How Customizing the Workspace Boosts Productivity

November 29, 2017

Businesswomen sitting in offices behind glass screen. Mature female manager at desk on left with two younger women sitting at table on right.

This is part five in our continuing series on employee productivity.


More and more offices are moving to an open-workspace design, which can be great for team collaboration. These kinds of workspaces often include low-walled cubicles, shared workspaces, and transparent conference rooms. This design allows for easy discussions between employees, which can boost learning and the sharing of ideas. Open plans are also conducive with wireless and mobile technology, which can make these plans attractive for many workers.


So shouldn’t we all be moving toward open workspace design?


Open plans also boost another thing: decibels, making them difficult places for phone calls as well as challenging spaces for individuals to get work done.


There is another growing trend where facilities managers are trying to design a hybrid solution, where workers can easily move from an open space to a private one, depending on their immediate needs. That may work for some offices, but it may not be necessary for all spaces.


Quite simply, there’s no one-size-fits-all scheme for workplace design. What may work for one group of workers may not work for another leading to lower productivity.


In “An Explorative Review of the Lean Office Concept,” published in the Journal of Corporate Real Estate, author Christina Bodin Danielsson states:

If the standardization process does not recognize the physical and behavioral environment’s importance for office occupiers by different work process types, productivity will decline. Standardization can lead to a lack of personal control among employees, which is a risk factor for overload and stress. Besides these risks, if the standardization of the office leads to sterile work environments, it may also have negative effects such as a decline of employees’ organizational identification, well-being and productivity.


Workplace design decisions should not take place in a vacuum. Get input from your employees in order to understand their workspace and technology needs. For groups that need to collaborate, an open space makes sense, but you should also provide rooms where people can go to concentrate if needed. Likewise for groups of workers who don’t need to collaborate a lot, it’s better for your default setting to be pro-privacy and have rooms available for discussions as needed.


For more information on boosting productivity, contact Vanguard Resources.