Designing Work Spaces that Maximize Productivity

by / Friday, 26 July 2013 / Published in CRE Trends, iCORE

Standard_CompetitiveAdvantageGoogle’s phenomenal success, not to mention its top ranking on Fortune’s “Best Places to Work” list in both 2012 and 2013 makes it one of the most highly sought after companies to work for.

In working with companies around the world, we find that many underestimate the significant influence that a good workplace design and layout has on employee’s satisfaction and productivity.

In the past decade, there have been a number of studies conducted that underscore the importance of smart building design for employee productivity  To summarize a few of the findings:

  • According to a study by Cornell University, an increase in office temperature from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit slowed typing errors by 44% and increased typing output by 150%.
  • A series of 15 international case studies conducted by the Center for the Built Environment revealed that natural ventilation can increase productivity between 0.5% and 11%.
  • In a study by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, employees in windowed offices were shown to spend 15% more time staying on task than colleagues in windowless offices.

Smart work spaces boast the following employee benefits:

  • Employees stay longer at the office as they’re comfortable in their work environment
  • Open collaborative spaces increase team interaction and communication
  • Comfortable temperature, fresh air and natural light all contribute to increased employee productivity
  • Enhanced employee morale and overall well-being (which in turn decreases absenteeism)

Since Google has obviously been doing something right, we thought it would be good to share some insight on how they design their work environments for maximize employee satisfaction.

In true Google fashion, when it comes to planning their work environments, Google takes a scientific approach.   In their Living Lab, they’re able to experiment with new office settings such as ventilation, lighting and furniture.  While having a Living Lab isn’t realistic for most companies, there are a few takeaways that you can replicate to enhance your space.

According to a recent article in Businessweek, the no. 1 factor that has led to satisfaction in Google offices is listening to what the employees need.  This includes occupancy surveys, interviews and hallway conversations. Every employee is different and has unique work needs.    In response to these diverse needs, Google developed a variety of work areas such as open spaces, yoga areas, formal conference rooms, and informal meeting space.

They’ve also incorporated flexibility into work environments such as desks that easily transition from siting to standing and micro-kitchens that allow for a variety of activities.  This flexibility is designed to give employees the freedom to work how they want.