The Impact of Office Design on Employee Performance

Office design has evolved over the years and is moving away from cubicle offices to more open plan and creative environments.

In the past, organisations have assumed employees need to work there. What some businesses are realising is, they must create environments where people want to work (Forbes).

Everything from your chair, the office design to modern technology can impact employee well-being & this is strongly linked to productivity & performance (Department for Business Innovation & Skills)

When employees are engaged and happy in their jobs, studies have shown they are more productive and motivated to contribute.

How can office design help?

Office Layout

The layout of your office space can have a big impact on employee communication and collaboration. It’s important to consider how you want your teams to work together long term when planning the layout for office space.

Closed cubicles have been the norm for years, but as things evolve we’re seeing companies move away from this set up and introduce open plan offices and breakout spaces to improve communication.

Closed cubicles can isolate employees and create division. But they aren’t always a bad thing, employees sometimes need individual spaces if they have projects focus on. If these are important in your business, try introducing collaborative spaces and meeting areas where teams can brainstorm to enhance creativity as well as focus.

Furniture for Breakout Spaces


The psychology of colour in the workplace is said to be very important. It can impact everything from productivity to mood (K2). Some offices stick to neutral tones, however, a study by University of Texas found overly grey, beige or white offices led to increased signs of sadness and depression in women and men had similar emotions when in an excessively orange or purple environment.

The key is finding the right balance between colours and breaking them up where possible. K2 found that:

Blue can have a positive impact on productivity, and be seen as soothing or trustworthy.

Yellow is viewed as an optimistic colour and can inspire creativity. It stimulates mental activity and is perfect to use in creative spaces.

Red can raise mental energy and can foster increased efficiency. Its best to use as furnishings and not in vast spaces – it can be too overpowering if overused.  

White represents purity and cleanliness, it can make certain spaces look larger but can make spaces look sterile if not balanced with other colour.

Graphics artwork and features can inject colour – you don’t need to go for a whole redesign.

Green can have a calming impact, it represents balance and growth. It represents our natural surroundings and a great way to introduce green is through plants and even living walls.


Offices devoid of pictures, colour or any other distractions are “the most toxic space” you can put a human into, say psychologists.

Dr Chris Knight from Exeter University concluded employees were 15% more productive when lean workspaces are filled with just a few plants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers, (Guardian).

The presence of plants mitigates stress-related conditions such as anxiety, fatigue, and hostility. They produce cleaner air & help create a better working environment.

All essential to create a productive and positive working environment.

Living Walls


It’s very important to get the lighting right in your office. There are drawbacks of artificial lighting and these can be detrimental to productivity.

Dim lighting can cause headaches and eyestrain as the eyes are forced to work harder. Harsh lighting can cause eyestrain and migraines plus poor focus in some cases.

Utilising as much natural lighting as possible is the best option, but you will have to work with artificial lighting in some way. Ensure there isn’t glare on screens, blinds are introduced if required and ceiling lights can be adjusted.

Humanscale offer LED desk lamps which are designed to save energy and offer a large footprint of neutral light to reduce strain on the eyes. Brightness can easily be adjusted to suit the user.

The employee experience is becoming hugely important and setting your staff up with the right environment can greatly improve their happiness & wellness along with ultimately productivity which only benefits your business.

Victoria Vaughan

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