Natural Texture Improves Workplace Productivity

You’ve done the necessary things for your employees: ensuring a reward and support system that motivates, provide training and personal development path, and encourage collaboration. But have you looked at whether the space where your employees spend most of time at (the office) is conducive for productivity? Here are 5 science-backed design tips that will improve productivity in your office.

Any psych major worth their salt would cynically be reminded of the Hawthorne Effect if asked whether office design affects productivity. The Hawthorne Effect is also known as The Observer Effect – people become more productive if they feel like someone is watching, regardless of lighting condition. That said, Hawthorne Effect is based on studies conducted in late 1920s and early 1930s on factory workers. In today’s environment of knowledge workers whose idea of manual labor is pulling out paper from the copy machine, things are different.

The following are office science-backed design tips that are proven to increase productivity levels:

Colour Code Spaces

Colours help us compartmentalize what we see. We’ve known for some time that color impacts productivity in the office. But we’ve recently learned how using color can help us retain and extract information. This is why more office designs are being color coded to help employees compartmentalize tasks. As shown in this infographic by Taskworld, natural colours such as green and yellow are most conducive for long hours of creativity.

Make Space for Creative Collaboration

Create clusters of workstations for employees who work well together. A new study found that workers are more productive when they sit next to people who have complementary work styles. In contrast, surrounding employees with the wrong people can bring productivity down.

Make Employees Feel at Home by Bringing In Homey Elements

Workers who work from home are happier, less likely to quit and more productive overall. Call centers report employees working remotely can handle 13.5% more calls. But, if working from home is not possible, why not bring the home to the office? Use hand-made fabrics to soften rooms, and use woods like oak, beech, or their bamboo equivalents to make your employees feel at home.

Shed a Little (Natural) Light In

Humans intuitively strive to connect with nature. This phenomenon is called biophilia, and it’s also one of the hottest design trends of the moment. One biophilic design that is proven to help boost productivity: increasing natural light in the workspace. More natural light helps workers get a better rest at when they go back home. Study shows that workers exposed to natural light slept an average of 46 minutes more each night. Workers without windows reported quality of life issues, including vitality problems and daytime dysfunction.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should work in an office that looks like an aquarium. There are moments where dim lighting is actually preferred – for example, in creative workspaces that requires hands-on work.

Go Green by Getting Some Greens In

A Washington State University study on productivity found that people responded 12 percent faster on computer tasks when plants were in the room.

Even without these stats, plants have always been a welcome addition to any office. They add life and color to a previously sterile room. But current trends have made more room for plants in the office than ever before.

If you noticed a pattern in the quoted studies, most of the science-backed design tips are about how people tend to be more productive when they’re close natural textures and elements. This is nothing new of course. From Aristotle to Thoreau to Dickens, great minds have espoused the benefits of walking in the woods. If your office is close to nature, encourage your team to go outside more. If – like the rest of us urban dwellers – your office is nowhere near greeneries, it’s time to bring nature closer in your workspace design.


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