5 Features Productive Workplaces Have in Common

Productive Workplace - Modern Office

All businesses want their employees to be at their most productive. And while in the past this often meant confining them to a cubicle, in recent years, office design has undergone something of a revolution.

More than ever before, employers understand the impact that office environment can have on how well staff do their jobs. And this conclusion makes sense – we’ve always known that we feel happier and more focussed in some spaces than others.

From co-working to bean bag rooms, office design trends come and go. However, there are five features that are evident in every productive workspace.

They Give Employees a Choice of Environments

We learn that everybody’s different at primary school – but many businesses still fail to offer employees a choice of environments, with open plan design still the layout of choice (read our post on why this is a bad idea).

However, whilst one person may work better with background noise, another may struggle to do the same task without near silence. Equally, some tasks are better suited to collaboration, such as ideas generation, whilst others, such as writing, require individual concentration.

So what’s the solution? In a 2013 workplace survey, design and architectural firm Gensler found that workers who were allowed to decide when, how and where they worked performed better and were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs – suggesting that offering employees a choice of environments is essential for them to be at their best.

They Blur the Line Between Work and Home

You only have to search for ‘cool office designs’ to see that the workplace has changed dramatically since the 1980s, when rows of dull grey cubicles were all the rage.

From onsite gyms and sleep pods at Google to coffee shops and barbers at Facebook, the distinction between work life and home life has never been more blurred.

But what are the benefits in terms of employee productivity? Essentially, the old saying ‘a happy workforce is a productive workforce’ is true, with research finding that happy people are 12% more productive. And perks such as the above are undeniably likely to go down well with employees.

Unfortunately, most companies don’t have Google or Facebook’s budget – but creating a laidback area where employees can kick back, relax and feel at home could help to improve morale.

They’re Comfortable

In some ways, this goes without saying. But it’s surprising how often employers overlook factors such as thermal and ergonomic comfort and access to natural light.

Once again, you only have to look at the research to understand just how important these factors can be. For example, numerous studies have found that exposure to natural light (as opposed to windowless, artificially lit environments) improves workplace performance, whilst a 2009 study found that ‘comfortable and ergonomic office design motivates…employees and increases their performance substantially’.

They Offer Flexibility

Aside from offering employees the flexibility to decide where and how they work, productive workspaces need to offer flexibility in terms of future growth and changes – particularly as relocation is expensive and time consuming.

For example, if you hire lots of new employees, you still need to be able to offer everyone the space, choice and perks they’re accustomed to. Equally, if the way your staff works changes, you need to have the flexibility to ensure that their environment can be altered to suit this change.

They Attract and Retain Talent

It makes sense that the most talented employees are the pickiest, as they’re the ones who have the most choice when it comes to finding their next role.

You shouldn’t underestimate the power that office environment can have over this process. After all, if you had two job offers, would you be more likely to choose the grey, dated office in the middle of nowhere, or the swanky city centre office with a pool table and modern fittings?

There are, of course, other factors that come into play, such as salary and job description – however, if it’s a close call, your office can be a valuable recruitment tool.


Office design trends come and go, but these five factors are common in most productive workspaces and essential if you want your employees to be at their best.

For more productivity tips, read our eBook ‘The Essential Guide to Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs’.


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