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A professional office setting creates a lasting first impression that immediately tells clients about the company’s standards for their business. A chaotic physical environment, on the other hand, results in reduced productivity and the business’ professional image could take a hit which can be disastrous for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). To this end, publishing ‘productivity’ hacks have become widespread in recent years. Of course, these efforts are commendable and in addition, implementing certain office design elements can also greatly improve productivity for business.

Ergonomics

People will be spending around 40+ hours a week inside the office so it is essential to make it comfortable. This does not mean having certain luxuries like recliners everywhere but creating an environment that is good for concentration. Choosing ergonomically-designed furniture and keeping the workplace clean yield great results for productivity.

Space matters, too. People should be able to get around the office without obstacles. Each worker must also be given sufficient working space not just for comfort but also for privacy. In fact, a minimum amount of space allocated for each worker is mandated by law in most countries. For example, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive allots at least 11 cubic meters for each person.

Acoustics

According to a Cornell University research, excessive workplace noise can result in decreased productivity, stress, and even illness. Noise creates an unpleasant environment which in turn, contribute to more work errors. So it is important to provide meeting and conference rooms where people can discuss strategies in peace.

Sometimes, some of the background noise may be out of the business’ control. Employees would not want to work hearing the sounds of heavy machinery in addition to workplace chatter. Central business districts are growing and new infrastructure needs to be built to accommodate rising businesses. Noise-blocking ceilings and tiles can help alleviate this problem. In addition, providing employees with noise-canceling headphones allows them to shut the noise completely in order to focus on tasks.

In times when confidential information needs to be discussed, having a private conference room within the office provides this much-needed privacy even in open office settings.

Color

Colors tend to have a considerable impact on people’s moods. In a study conducted by the University of Texas, dull grays and beige commonly used in corporate offices induce feelings of sadness in women. Likewise, purple and orange have a similar effect on men. It pays to choose colors wisely.

According to a study by Taskworld, blue is a stable color that helps workers focus. Likewise, green is great for those working long hours as it does not cause eye fatigue. It also helps that these two colors often appear in nature so the eyes are more accustomed to them. Yellow and red can help spark creativity but take care to use them sparingly.

Of course, this does not mean that it is time to shell out a lot of funds for a repaint or makeover. As with the art of sales, the trick is to do it with subtlety. Having some blue on the dividers or on the upholstery is a good start. Putting a few plants in break rooms creates a natural calm around the area without it being too overbearing. It is much more cost-efficient than a total repaint too.

Lighting

Unfortunately, poor lighting is pretty commonplace in a lot of office spaces. This is despite the research that shows poor lighting having a significant effect on productivity. After all, nobody wants to work in the dark. On the other hand, some lights can be too harsh which causes eye strain and fatigue.

The key is to integrate some natural light. Keep some windows open, allowing daylight to peer through the blinds. In addition, workers with more exposure to sunlight tend to sleep better at night while those working only with artificial lighting report feeling more tired at the end of the day. It is cost-efficient and energy-efficient for the office, as well, since there is no need to keep the artificial lights on all the time.

Technology

A US study found that at least 22 minutes a day are wasted because of IT-related issues. That estimate comes close to around two hours a week of lost productivity. This can really hurt a business in the long run.

To date, some of the most common technical issues are software malfunctions, computers freezing, internet traffic delays and scanner or printer issues. Hence, it pays to keep all systems updated. In addition, having a 24/7 help desk support also ensures that an issue is resolved before it could escalate to something bigger.

Remember, the secret to avoiding severe IT errors is to detect it early and have it attended to as soon as possible. Make sure employees know how to resolve these issues or at least, immediately call on the people who can. Hence, training is very important for staff. Whether the business is setting up its own office or renting a space with a trusted provider, it is important to consider the design elements within their given space. Keep in mind that the office will be the primary hub for innovation for years to come. Maximizing productivity through a good layout enhances focus, and helps keep the path clear towards future success.

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