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How office design affects productivity

One in three workers in 17 of the world’s most important economies are not engaged with their work, claims a new Steelcase study of 12,000 employees across 16 countries.

The problem? Disengaged employees are unproductive employees. If your staff do not feel any form of engagement with your business, they will likely be underperforming.

Staff engagement is fuelled by the environment in which a person works. Think about it: your staff spend more than 30 hours a week at work. When they come into the office, are they inspired? Do they feel motivated by the office environment they are working in? If the answer is no, there are things you can do to increase staff engagement, and ultimately productivity, in your workplace. Consider the following:

Offer a variety of spaces

Invest in a range of spaces to help you in attracting and retaining the right people. By giving your staff more choice and control over their work experience, you can help them to be at their most productive.


Of those questioned in the above study by Steelcase, UK workers say they are less likely to have the freedom to choose where they want to work in the office, as opposed to those in other countries. This could leave them feeling that they have a lack of control over their daily work experience.

Indeed, the University of California estimates that the average office worker is interrupted or distracted every 3 minutes, which backs the case for offering staff private spaces to work in an open plan setting. The same university suggests that it takes an average 23 minutes to return to a task after being interrupted in some way.

Get collaborating

The results of the Steelcase study show that the biggest difference between UK workplaces and others globally is that almost half of all offices in the UK are open-plan designs – more than double the global average. The research suggests that this is due to the high cost of business premises (particularly in London); but there has also been an increase in open plan offices in a push for more collaborative work.


Creating spaces that help people to collaborate with their colleagues is so important. Collaborative environments encourage teamwork, boost creativity and expand possibilities.

…but give your staff privacy when they need it

Although there are many advantages to open plan offices, and indeed collaborative spaces as a whole, various reports show that office workers are struggling to manage their need for privacy, and find areas where they are able to focus.

Head stuck in a tricky project? There are times when we all need to buckle down and get on with a difficult piece of work, without being distracted by others. But as more and more offices go open-plan, privacy and focus are in demand.

At Penketh Group, we offer innovative products to support privacy in the workplace, such as Den by Ocee Design. Designed to make open spaces more private, Den is a range of acoustic work areas created for staff who need to focus without interruptions. Acoustically enhanced to minimise noise and distractions, Den aids productivity, meaning staff can get on with their work without distraction.


Meetings of the future

Take a look at how you conduct your meetings: are they long? As effective as they can be? From state-of-the-art technology down to the meeting space itself, there are many innovative products shaking up the traditional workplace meeting.

Looking to easily share ideas with colleagues, from multiple screens? There are a whole host of products for that, making the process much quicker and easier. The impressive Clickshare allows staff to work seamlessly with colleagues from one screen. It’s quick to set up and so easy to use, with the option to connect up to 8 people in one meeting. There is no software to be downloaded and staff can easily connect via the app.


For quick meetings on the go, consider Ballo. A great piece of furniture which can be placed next to a desk for impromptu meetings, the impressive and super-comfortable Ballo can go where you go.


Take time out

It is easy to forget that to be at their most productive, staff should have time out to relax and rejuvenate. Businesses should offer spaces for privacy and collaboration, as well as places to rejuvenate.

Why not try a Work Café? These dynamic spaces connect your people with their colleagues, their individual work and the business as a whole. Utilising a Work Café can transform a traditional corporate cafeteria into a place for connection, collaboration, focus and innovation. They can rejuvenate staff, and encourage them to bounce back more energised and productive as a result.

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