Workplace Design Can Make or Break Productivity October 28, 2014 RICCentre You’re at work and have been sitting for too long, so you decide to unwind by going downstairs for a massage. Since the company you work enforces a rule that you can’t be more than 100 meters from food, getting something to eat will be no problem as there is a cafeteria, restaurant or micro-kitchen at every turn. The company is Google, designers and higher-ups of which have spent a great deal of time devising ways to keep employees happy, creative and more productive. And what they do definitely works. A study by BlueMountainsAustralia.com suggests that an employee’s work conditions make up 24 percent of his or her overall job satisfaction. The same study says poor workplace design results in lower performance and increased stress levels among employees. So what changes can you make to your office layout? Weigh the options below. Open Floor Plans vs. Cubicles More companies seem to be swinging toward open office spaces where employees are able to interact with each other; these places are reporting creativity and profit increases following the implementation of open, flexible floor plans. For example, take the AOL Headquarters. Following its recent purchase of TechCrunch and Huffington Post, AOL’s Palo Alto headquarters has taken after Google and started making big changes to its look and feel in order to suit a younger, more creative group of employees. However, not all companies find this design as effective as the traditional cubicle design. Zappos has not adopted the open floor plan concept, sticking to cubicles as a way of honoring their commitment to employee individuality. The online retail giant has decorated its indoors with a jungle theme and encourages employees to decorate their space as they please. Employers can have the best of both worlds, as well. Some companies create an open space for employees for creativity purposes and smaller areas to use when an employee needs privacy. If your office has the space for both, ask your people what they want! For the creative space you can look into furniture retailers like Wayfair Australia and for the traditional workspace, sites like GraysOnline.com have ergonomic chairs, desks and accessories. Knowing Employee Needs The senior management in a successful company knows her employees. Whether it’s by observation, surveys, or individual interview, it’s easy to find out what kind of an office design a company really needs. The Red Bull office in Soho, London houses 100 employees, most of whom are twenty years old. After they considered the average age of most of their employees, Red Bull designed an office with more of a lounge-like feel that turns into a bar at night. On the flip side, the average age of Facebook employees is 26 but that information alone was not enough to design Facebook’s offices, so it used its own software to conduct employee polls as to what they wanted from an office so as provide maximum comfort. Personal control of workspace or office and its direct link to productivity is an important factor. In not being able to personalise their surroundings, employees often feel depressed and undervalued, which in turn stifles creativity and results in profit loss. All in All To cut costs, improve morale and boost productivity, a company would do well to find and meet an employee’s expectations as to what makes them comfortable in their own personal work environment. Well-designed, comfortable surroundings result in happy employees and productivity soars. Companies that keep a small budget for workplace décor and design should reconsider their options. When all is said and done, it costs a lot more to have an unhappy employee than it does to decorate an office.