Workplace Design and Strategy
May 27th, 2015


13 Workplace Analytics Every IT Leader Should Track

5 Habits of Effective Workplace Design

5 Habits of Effective Workplace Design


The inside of a business’s workspace says a lot about them. Their culture, their business, their employees and even their clients -- all of these factors contribute to the productivity, creativity, and efficiency of the office. Some businesses cater to the latest and greatest meeting room displays, modern visitor management systems and even internal workplace analytic software. Others prefer to simply it by being strictly tech-free, though there are fewer businesses that subscribe to this ideology. 

Take, for example, what Apple’s Steve Wozniak detailed in his memoir, iWoz:

“Most inventors and engineers are like me – they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists.

“In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee.”

Woz’s comment illustrates the importance of well-thought workspace planning and design. The right workspace for your organization will match the needs and work style of the workers – such as the introverts Wozniak mentions – as well as the goals the organization is hoping to accomplish.


How workspace design is affecting productivity

Offices sporting well-thought-out designs will bolster and brag that their layout remains far superior to any other. In fact, many of the hottest businesses would vouch for their amenities and modern luxuries, throwing their names into the hat. 

More recently, meeting room displays, room organizer apps, and conference room management software have taken to the skies in terms of popularity, with businesses like HP, Squarespace, LinkedIn, and others taking this technology to the streets and testing the results. 

And for many of these Fortune 500 corporations, their spaces do showcase productivity, employee satisfaction and workplace balance for their industry, product, and workforce. 

While something can be said for company-centric individuality and productivity, shared workspaces, despite fancy workplace analytics and visitor management systems, are setting their own tone of popularity. 

Offices began seeing this giant change some years ago when open floor plans were first introduced. By scrapping the idea of walling employees into cubicles, many agencies believed that this was conducive to team building, transparency, collaborative productivity, and company culture. 

While this trend continues, corporations are starting to rely on the statistics behind the idea for incorporating open co-working spaces. In fact, Fast Company referenced a 2010 study conducted by the International Facility Management Association, stating 68% of companies reported having open workspaces, undoubtedly to encourage collaboration, communication, and energy.  

Since 2010, however, many employees and corporations have reported the downfalls of entertaining open floor plans and shared working spaces, according to Pooja Singh at Entrepreneur

Recent research shows that such offices result in 73 percent less face-to-face interaction and a 67 percent increase in email interaction. Why? All the distracting noise of an open office causes employees to tune out with their headphones, and they resort to sending their queries to colleagues via email instead of standing in front of them owing to lack of privacy.

Other sources, such as Fast Company, The Perspective, and Slate report everything from decreased productivity to increased employee health risks.

So, how does a modern workspace achieve an effective balance? 

Think about Wozniak’s comment on artists: they need options to concentrate, to focus and “control an invention’s design.” If every employee is an artist and is expected to be productive, then open office spaces warrant effective and accessible quiet spaces to create and contribute individual works of art. 


Characteristics of a success-focused workspace

So, how is a workspace masterpiece created? By curating an achievable workspace balance. While installing cool tech, like iPad receptionists and meeting room displays may modernize your space, finding a balance goes beyond even that. 

Fortunately, many of the sources that bashed co-working and open office spaces also provided solutions for balance and have inspired these five “habits” of effective workspace and room management designs: 

  1. Fit both the employee and the output. This includes desk needs, office layout designs, number and location of conference rooms, meeting room displays the location of common areas and inclusion of quiet or huddle spaces.
  2. Consider what space can do to enhance productivity for the office collectively. Accessibility, lighting, sound, comfort – anything can play a role in the team’s productivity.
  3. Organize teams geographically where they can collaborate, but separate teams with work styles or job functions that clash. 

For example, place your sales team near your customer support team and your product development group near testing and quality control teams. But separate a team of tech writers from the team that spends most of its day on the phone or meeting with clients.

  1. Seek to increase communication, transparency, and creativity. Make common areas readily accessible to everyone and allow for nearby meeting spaces and workspaces. Ensure it’s easy to tell when space is available with conference room management or room organizer apps, too, so small groups can quickly reserve a space to continue brainstorming without disturbing other teams.
  2. Support your long-term goals through practical alternatives. Many corporate offices have opted for co-working spaces, like WeWork, for remote employees or those with longer commutes. Other options include telecommuting, hiring freelancers and vying for company-wide flexibility, like unlimited PTO or flexible work hours. 


Organizations face a number of factors when designing or modifying their office space. As we’ve seen, cubicles and strictly open office spaces don’t work, so how will the choices you make enhance productivity? Remember, the only way to achieve your business’s goals is to achieve a physical balance in the workplace. 

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