Can Workplace Design Really Impact Productivity? 4 Questions You Need to Ask

April 2, 2015

When it comes to workplace design and productivity, there is a wealth of research - and debate - about what type of office space creates the most productive workforce. All trends aside, which workplace designs will make the biggest impact on your small business’s productivity?

To understand how workplace design can improve the productivity of your workforce, here are four questions you need to ask. workplace_design__productivity

4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Workplace Design & Productivity

Question #1 - What Workplace Design Features Should We Consider?

As you begin thinking about workplace design and productivity, there are a few areas to focus on. Here are three popular design aspects to understand and evaluate:

  • Open Layout vs. Closed Cubicles - As we wrote about previously, recent research has found that open, bullpen-style spaces can negatively affect employee productivity because of the noise distraction and lack of privacy. At the same time, companies or departments that thrive on collaboration may find them to aid productivity.

  • Color - There is a wealth of research behind the psychological effect of color in the workplace. Color impacts the mood of your workforce and productivity.

  • A Healthy Workplace - Workplace design can have a big impact on creating a healthy workplace. For example, offering standing desks or easy access to walking trails help employees stay fit - and alert - during the work day.

Unsure which of these aspects of workplace design are right for your small business? Keep reading. The next three questions will help guide you.

Question #2 - What are the Needs of Our Unique Workforce?

Designing an office space that will make your small business the most productive depends on your line of work and your workforce’s daily tasks.

As such, before you break out new cans of paint or tear down cubicles, you need to ask yourself: What are the metrics expected of our workforce, and what office design will help them get their job done the most efficiently?

For example, if the metrics of your accounts payable team is to generate invoices within 24 hours with no errors, a quiet office space with few distractions will be most conducive to productivity.

On the other hand, if the metrics of your community outreach team is to find new and creative ways to reach partners, an open environment that fosters collaboration could be the best layout for productivity and results.

And remember, you can have a mix of workplace design styles. What works for one department or team, such as sales or marketing, may not work for another, such as accounting or developers.

Question #3 - Does Our Workplace Design Reflect Our Culture?

As you consider different workplace design elements, it is also important to make sure it reflects your unique company culture.

Identify your culture values, such as health, collaboration, accuracy, professionalism, etc., and find ways to incorporate these elements into your design.

Question #4 - Does Our Workplace Design Attract the Right Candidates?

You’ve thought through how different workplace designs will impact the productivity of your current workforce, now don’t forget about new employees, too. As candidates interview with your business and tour your facilities, they are evaluating if it is a place they want to work.

As such, make sure your workplace design reflects the goals and culture of your business. The result? It will help you attract and hire the right candidates.


As your small business evaluates workplace design remember that the right office space can have a big impact on productivity. But don’t just jump on the bandwagon with trends such as an open office space and treadmill desks. First, evaluate the needs and style of your unique workforce, then make the changes and see the big results.

What questions do you have about workplace design and productivity? Leave a question and join the conversation.

Learn how an HRA works for employers in our latest webinar
Watch the recording today, and learn how an HRA can help your organization.
meeting_wide-1 CTA_purp_R

Topics :