Ergonomics and employee-centered design are often left out of a company’s primary strategy to reach business goals, as stated in the report, Ergonomics Contributions to Company Strategies. Comfort and efficiency in design, researchers found, is considered part of improving employee health and safety, yet poorly designed office spaces can have a negative impact on productivity.
If you are starting a company or simply considering a change in design, it is important to take ergonomics into account from the very beginning, since leaving it too late can increase costs and waste resources. To boost employee health, happiness and wellbeing, the following measures may be useful.
The very first stage when it comes to productive office interior design is to ensure functionality. That is, design should take its lead from the type of work being carried out, and it should inspire productivity in staff. Employees should be able to move freely both within their own work stations and between other stations, they should be able to do so quickly. They should also be able to access other employees easily. Clutter and items that take up space without a purpose should be removed. As found in a study by researchers at the University of Navarra in Spain, employees commit more errors when they work in cluttered environments. Offices with designs that are too ‘busy’, meanwhile, can increase distraction and anxiety, and make it more difficult to focus on the task at hand.
Creating Separate Zones
Open floor plans may be all the rage in homes, yet as reported by academics from the Harvard Business Review, they don’t necessarily produce the desired interactions, and they can impede workers’ ability to focus. Interestingly, research shows that firms that have switched to open office structures enjoy 70% less interaction between employees than when work spaces are individual. A design balance can be achieved by ensuring your office has different types of spaces – collaborative, private, and chill-out zones (where employees can play games or enjoy a snack, for example).
Letting The Light In
It is vital that employees feel physically comfortable while working. Natural light is a key component of a comfortable workspace, since research has shown that workers in office environments with optimized natural light have an 84% drop in symptoms such as blurry vision, headaches, and eye tiredness and strain. Natural light also boosts alertness and results in increased productivity. Desks should therefore be placed close to windows where possible, and walls should be replaced with smart glass.
Incorporating Elements Of Biophilic Design
Biophilic design – that which incorporates elements from nature – reduces stress, boosts cognitive function, and enhances creativity. Modern offices are seeking to make the most of the healing effect of nature through features such as hanging ceiling plants and vertical green walls. When it comes to green interior design, it is important to concentrate on a couple of features that are optimally implemented, rather than cluttering spaces with plants. Green elements should also be positioned well, so that as many employees as possible can see them from their work stations.
The way your office is designed can have a big impact on employee performance. At the planning stage, it is important to consider how staff need to work and to remove any impediments to their free movement. Incorporating natural elements can help improve mood and concentration, as can providing workers with individual spaces in which they have the peace and quiet they need to stay focused.