Design & Productivity: The Workplace

It may seem trivial, but a few simple design fixes in your working environment can make you and your employees happier, healthier and more productive.

But before you rush to install an indoor Google-style ball pit in your accounting firm’s HQ, relax. All you need to do to boost your employee’s productivity is make a few small design tweaks.

Whether it’s as big as painting the walls or as small as adjusting your desk chair, here are some tips on how to tailor your office’s design for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.


One of the most complained about office design faults is all to do with where you sit. Nobody is going to be very productive if his or her back’s hurting due to an improperly adjusted chair. The great thing about this top tip is that it only takes a few minutes at most.

Firstly, focus on the height of your chair, desk and computer, ensuring that your thighs are parallel with the floor, and your upper arms perpendicular to the floor. Your wrists should be straight, and everything should be within easy reaching distance. Better? Good.

Trust. Your muscles and joints will thank you later.


Keeping a clutter-free desk will greatly increase productivity and organisation. It can be difficult to enforce a ‘clean desk’ rule, but you could always encourage your employees to scan documents for a more paperless desk.

Tip: If you are going to go paperless, for heaven’s sake, back up your files.

As an employee you should do your best to keep things in your personal space neat and tidy, including the folders and files on your computer. You’ll save heaps of time by developing a good system and sticking to it than by scrolling through an endless list of documents trying to find the one you want.

Get Sensual

Colour has a profound effect on the human behaviour and it is better understood now than at any time in history. Unfortunately, colour psychology is still one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to how surroundings can affect one’s levels of productivity.

Colour psychology relates to the effects of the electro-magnetic radiation of light on human mood and behaviour- a universal, psychophysical reaction, which is not heavily influenced by culture, age or gender.

Colour has long been proven to affect people’s productivity at work. The Colour Affects System, developed by colour psychologist Angela Wright, determines that while individuals may have certain preferences for colour, the effects of colour influence people universally.

According to Wright, blue stimulates the mind, yellow inspires creativity, red engages the body and green generates calming effects. But merely choosing a colour is not enough to have a significant effect. Even more important than the colour is it’s saturation and intensity. Highly saturated colours tend to stimulate humans, while muted colours soothe.

Colour is now heavily used by major brands all over the world. Millions and millions of pounds are being invested into the research of colour, scent, sound, and texture psychology- all to influence people into choosing a particular product.

If you can’t change the colour of your whole office, opt for flourishes and accents so that different teams are surrounded by the colours that will best compliment their type of work.

Go Green

If you’re not permitted to give your office a lick of paint, adding a small plant to your desk décor is one of the quickest and easiest ways you can maximise your productivity at work.

Studies have found that having a plant on your desk increases productivity and cognitive attention, as well as acting as an air filter removing mould and bacteria- keeping your employees productive, happy and healthy.

Light Me Up

Studies show that letting in a lot of natural light increase productivity, energy and creativity.

It’s unrealistic to assume every office can knock through their walls to make a few more windows, but you can easily work with the light you already get by making sure that as many desks are within view of a window as possible.

It also makes a big difference if you windows are cleaned regularly, ensuring maximum light intake.

Calves and Quads

Even the most well designed office will make employees unproductive if they feel chained to their desks. Make sure that employees have the space to get up and take a walk, or maybe a lounge area where they can do some work within a fresh setting. Free range- it works for the chickens!

A great office environment goes beyond good design; it comes down to culture.

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