By Adam Noble

An age-old problem that happens in every workplace around the globe; how can we encourage productivity? Rewards, break out areas and sugary goods are a tried and tested method, but office design is often overlooked. There are various changes that you may never have thought of that will make to your office more productive.


Anyone who sits at a desk understands how vital it is to have ergonomic furniture. Some offices may go to the extreme of all employees sitting on a yoga ball, but curved chairs and ergonomic keyboards can help the office environment flourish.

If your employees are comfortable, work is likely to be done more efficiently and to a higher standard. The further benefit of this comes from sick days. If your employees are being looked after at their desks, the injuries due to back pain will significantly reduce.


Most people consider colors in their home with a lot of thought, but offices are often painted white or dull colors for cost and efficiency. The University of Texas actually undertook a study into how different colors affect workers and found that bland grays and whites destroyed productivity and actually created an unhappy environment.

Many others have discussed the benefits of different colours, so for your next paint job, consider the following design choices and their benefits:

  • Blue – Encourages tranquillity and calms people.
  • Green – Naturally softer on the eyes meaning it is better for those working more extended hours.
  • Yellow – Fosters creativity within workers so is perfect for ideation and designers.
  • Red – Increases the heart rate and gets blood pumping which encourages productivity.

Agile and Flexible Working

Now the desks are ergonomic, and the walls are the perfect colors for fostering productivity, it’s now time to implement flexible working. Agile working as a topic has been scientifically discussed in great detail, see the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ paper on the topic for example.

Allowing your employees to work from home, coffee shops, at standing desks and choose the hours they work is a key element responsible for productivity. People will work harder when they have their perfect environment.

This approach needs to be implemented bottom-up, by offering managers these privileges first, employees will become disenfranchised. The higher level individuals may, however, need to be convinced of the benefits of allowing flexible working into their business.


Darkness has been proven to increase feelings of sadness and depression. For the perfect office environment, surfaces should be vertically lit and natural light should be implemented as much as possible.

A study found that 1/3 of workers found desk lighting uncomfortable, so it may be beneficial to move the lighting away from desks for some, it’s all about customizing the experience for the individual.

Natural lighting is scientifically proven to help combat tiredness, so open the blinds and avoid excess coffee. Natural light will help the office achieve its optimum lux, which is 2000 for healthy levels, however, most offices get about 500. You can get a rough lux estimate by using an app search for ‘lux tester’ on your phone to see what levels your office is hitting.

Offices are like plants. Give them light, a perfect environment and don’t overdo it on the water, or paint as it may be in this analogy.