Well-designed office space has a staggering influence on the way employees work and by extension, the bottom line of companies.
Linda Trim, Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, said that outstanding workplace design is often thought of as a ‘nice to have if there’s money.’ “But the truth of it is that good design is all about making more money and helping employees to be in the best state of mind to do it.”
According to a Harvard Business Review article ‘Selling the Brand Inside‘ by Mitchel, the physical design of your offices helps create strong emotional bonds between employees and the company they work for.
Said Trim, “The impact of design is not just an airy-fairy concept but is based in hard fact. Poor office design is one of the main reasons that polling company Gallup reported in its 2017 State of the Global Workplace study that 85% of employees across the globe aren’t engaged at work. And altogether, disengaged employees cost businesses $7 trillion annually in lost productivity.”
Trim noted that in all the businesses they’ve worked with in South Africa and across Africa, they’ve found that when people have a well-designed workplace, they tend to believe much more in what their company is doing, are motivated to work harder and they have greater company loyalty.
Conversely, when an office is poorly designed, there may be a disconnect between what a business is trying to accomplish and employees’ perception of that mission.
“In the worst case scenario, an uninviting space may cause employees to become disengaged, sometimes even hostile,” Trim added.
Well-designed offices, on the other hand, have been proven to increase productivity and unlock creativity.
So how do we make offices design friendly?
A 2014 study by Cardiff University’s School of Psychology found that the presence of plants in the office environment translates into a 15% increase in productivity. Natural light has a similar effect.
“We suggest painting office walls certain colours to help workers become happier and more creative,” said Trim. A study published in Sage Journal in 2012 called ‘Fertile Green‘ found that participants who were briefly shown a green rectangle were 20% more creative when asked to imagine ways to use a tin can compared to those who were shown a white rectangle. The researchers suggested people associate the colour green with growth.
Other studies have shown a link between noise and creativity. We may be more creative when we’re listening to moderate noises than when things are quieter. Of course, when it gets too loud, these gains are lost.
A real-world example of how well-designed offices can translate into desirable business outcomes is Amazon. In January this year, Amazon officially opened The Spheres, a 6,000 square metre rainforest-like workspace with more than 40,000 plants from 30 different countries.
“Amazon is clearly familiar with the wealth of studies that demonstrate the link between creativity and being outdoors,” Trim noted. The company hopes that these new offices will help them attract and retain top talent, while encouraging collaboration, enhancing creativity, and increasing productivity.
If companies want to grow a successful business, they need dedicated office space that highlights their values and strengthens their culture.
“A great office doubles as a recruiting and retention tool too.”