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5 Design Trends That Boost Workplace Productivity

Workplace productivity is about getting the job done in the most efficient way while keeping a smile on your face. And you’d be surprised how much work spaces can influence employees’ day-to-day productivity and happiness factor. From stand-up-desks to sleeping pods, companies are trying just about everything to improve efficiency. We looked at a few of the popular office design trends to see what works.

The open-plan concept

Tearing down walls to promote team-member collaboration was the idea behind the open-plan concept introduced in the 1990s. With it, came the promise of better employee performance, more collaboration and greater happiness. The “jury is still out” on whether it delivered on that promise.  According to research from global design firm Unispace, the noise and distraction from an open-plan workspace prevent employees from focusing on individual tasks that require total concentration with minimal disruption.

“Collaboration is obviously a central tenet of many modern spaces and in this environment, creating a fusion of ideas and socialization is key,” Unispace global director Simon Pole said. But for the majority of everyday business tasks, workers need space for focus, calm and solitude.”

He also said increased noise and lack of privacy and quiet spaces are the top employee complaints in an open environment.

Unispace found that 60 percent of the average work day is devoted to individual task-focused work, 25 percent to collaboration, 7 percent to socializing and another 7 percent for learning. So, while open plans foster collaboration, only a quarter of a person’s time is devoted to that task. And people work differently based on their roles. Some are flexible, others are highly mobile and some are desk- oriented.

Activity-based working (ABW)

The tech industry has led this trend, which combines open spaces with task-oriented and agile or flexible spaces. With agile spaces, people don’t have an assigned desk. Instead, they choose where they want to work every day. This makes the most of office space and gives employees the freedom to choose the best place to work.


Many employees complain about office lighting. Better natural and artificial light can reduce absences and improve alertness. Harsh and dim lighting can cause migraines and headaches, drowsiness and fatigue. And when employees get tired at work, they look for distractions such as Internet browsing or break-room socializing. Companies today incorporate more natural light, which boosts energy levels, increases happiness and promotes general well-being. Common areas, such as conference rooms, are notorious for fluorescent lighting. But incorporating incandescent lights can provide a welcome energy boost.

Biophilic design

Derived from the world biophilia, meaning “love of life,” this office trend brings the outdoors in, by incorporating nature into the look and feel of your office. This can be anything from nature-inspired patterns, to themes and natural materials. Examples are a glass panel to let in natural light, plants to re-energize the work space and natural, calming colors.

Technology upgrades

Workplace productivity has declined over the past few years due in part to legacy infrastructures that impact employee productivity. One area is office supply distribution. Replacing the supply cabinet with self-serve Smart Stations™ frees up everyone to be more productive and creates happier workplaces.  Companies have seen a boost of 30 percent or more from implementing smart vending into their halls and common areas and it gives offices a modern feel.

What could your company stand to gain in productivity with a few simple design changes?

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