Jul 24th 2017

Commercial Office Design: The Anatomy of Productive Office Spaces

John Stein

Commercial Office Design is not just an art, it’s also part science. Creating an optimal work environment is a delicate balance of space planning, light, sound, aesthetics and natural elements along with flow and function.

Increase productivity by making your office space a happier place to be.

Healthy environments make happy employees

Personal health also plays a large part in productivity and creativity - using low VOC materials on surfaces and in furnishings reduces toxins in the indoor atmosphere and contributes to health and wellbeing of employees. Better air circulation can also help with better office productivity.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report suggesting that up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings may have excessive complaints about indoor air quality.”

Walking the Walk

As you work to make your office more environmentally friendly, you may also see employee engagement go up. Employees will be proud to work for a company committed to the environment

Increase sustainability to improve your employee’s health while also positively impacting the health of the planet. One simple way to make your office more sustainable without a costly and time consuming redesign or refit is to change the furniture for durable, adaptable and functional furniture that will stay with your office space as the company evolves.

Avoid petroleum based products and adhesives with high VOCs. A great material to work with when increasing sustainability is bamboo, a wood alternative that can lower your office’s carbon footprint.

Use Acoustic Materials to Keep It Quiet...But Not Too Quiet

Offices are often incredibly noisy with printers humming, phones ringing, and multiple conversations going at once. Reducing that noise can be instrumental in increasing productivity and morale while decreasing stress.

Consider these noise reducing options:

  • Acoustic ceiling and wall panels: sound absorbing panels are incredibly effective, but not always aesthetically pleasing. Thankfully, there are more modern options on the market today.
  • Dedicated quiet spaces: especially in open offices, it can be beneficial for employees to find a retreat in a smaller, dedicated quiet space. An all glass enclosure can maintain the aesthetics of an open office.
  • Playing ambient noise: background noise played at a consistent volume can mask unwanted noise.
  • Noise reducing flooring: thoughtful flooring choices can also decrease noise in an office. Products such as carpet and vinyl flooring are traditionally quieter, but installing and resilient underlayer with bamboo on top can increase sustainability while also decreasing noise

Natural Elements Make for Happier Workers

Employees who work in environments with natural elements reported a 13% higher level of well-being and are 8% more productive overall according to a report commissioned by Interface.

Using natural materials, such as reclaimed wood or bamboo, in your decor and having low maintenance plants in the office are simple ways to integrate that insight. Use lighter colors to paint offices so you keep your indoor environments calm without being boring.

Incorporating nature in places like small waterfalls, fish tanks, atriums and outdoor grounds keeping all add up to a positive work environment that benefits workers and your business alike.

Use Privacy Panels for More Focused Work Spaces

Utilizing privacy panels in your office can increase productivity by giving employees privacy and decreasing noise levels in the office.

A major benefit of modular panels lies in their flexibility. As employee needs change, teams are formed, or new projects are started the panels can be moved as needed. Lastly, some panels are designed with aesthetics in mind, such as open shelving and white boards.

Accent through Natural Light to Increase Productivity

68% of employees are unhappy about the lighting in their office, according to a study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design.

Maximizing existing natural light is a fairly simple way to improve employee satisfaction while also increasing office sustainability (by decreasing the need for artificial lighting). But the benefits of natural lighting in an office go far beyond just putting employees in a better mood.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that participants with windows in their offices got 46 minutes more sleep per night and even reported exercised more after work than workers with no natural light in their workspaces.