4 Design Innovations to Improve Workplace Satisfaction

Below you will find a great article about how to design for today’s office environment.  S Interior Design is currently working on a project for a company who has obviously read the research.  We are opening the work space up while still providing some privacy, and have added a communal break room- kitchen.  Here is a sneak peak of the break room design in progress


4 Design Innovations to Improve Workplace Satisfaction

Henry Ford’s assembly line and Robert Propst’s cubicle were groundbreaking innovations aimed at increasing productivity in the workplace. While productivity is still one of the critical success factors in a work environment, many major companies have been shifting away from industrial designs towards the type of office that promotes employee satisfaction. The idea is simple: a happy workplace will attract top recruits, improve employee retention, and ultimately allow employers to build an efficient and cohesive workplace.
How does that work? Simply put, happy workers are more productive than their unhappy peers, and there’s now quantitative evidence to back up this claim. Economic researchers in the UK and Germany recently conducted a study revealing that happy people are 10-12% more productive than unhappy or emotionally neutral people.

The truth is, top companies recognized the importance of happy employees well before the results of this study came in. Many businesses have discovered that happy employees are more focused, get more work done, take fewer sick days, and stay at the company premises for longer. With that in mind, tech giants such as Google and entertainment leaders such as Pixar have introduced all kinds of in-office perks, including fitness centers, game rooms, and cafes with gourmet food.
Of course, you don’t have to allot an enormous budget for extravagant perks to boost employee happiness in the workplace. Here are 4 ideas to improve worker satisfaction and productivity through the layout of your office, with minimum investment.

Adjustable Workstations

In their 2013 Workplace Survey, Harvard Business Review found that workers whose employers gave them greater autonomy were more likely to be satisfied at work, perform better, and view their employers as more innovative than other industry competitors.
One easy way to give employees greater autonomy is to let them work from adjustable workstations. For example, Facebook lets employees at their headquarters adjust the height, layout, and configuration of their desks to create their optimal workspace. So it’s okay if you feel most productive and energetic working at a standing desk station all day, while your coworker does best with a seated corner desk – Facebook is happy to accommodate both of you.

Individual departments within Facebook are also able to rearrange their desks whenever they need to. If the marketing team needs to have a brainstorming session, they can easily circle their desks up in the center of the room, then move them back against the wall when they need to focus on individual projects. This freedom to create the ideal workspace improves employee happiness and productivity.

Rotating Seating Chart

In a medium or large office, it’s all too easy for employees to become isolated within their department or even their immediate seating area. Research has shown that a worker’s immediate neighbors account for 40-60% of their interactions throughout the day, meaning that there’s frequently a disconnect between employees who aren’t geographically close together.
To improve company culture and encourage greater connectivity, some companies, such as inbound marketing specialist HubSpot, have adopted a rotating seating chart every six to eight months. Shifting the seat locations around gives employees the opportunity to get to know more people and to collaborate with people outside of their department. It also gives employers a chance to rearrange employees with work style and personality in mind, so that there are no major office clashes.

A Central Atrium


The Pixar headquarters have a large, central atrium with bathrooms and a cafeteria set far apart from the work spaces. Their goal is to promote connections between workers in different departments and to encourage new ideas from casual conversations. While not every business has the building space to create this kind of grand atrium, smaller businesses can still set up a central space, such as a break room, for employees from across departments to meet in a relaxed environment.

Distraction-Free Workspaces

While the open-office layout has become the overwhelming trend in the US (70% of all offices in America now have an open-floor plan), some employees find this collaborative environment distracting and need privacy to be able to focus on their work tasks. Businesses that use an open-office layout can provide this by setting up areas that are blocked from the main floor. Even companies that don’t want to add walls can resort to couches, bookshelves, desks, and moveable walls to set up an area for employees who are happier and more productive when they’re not in a sea of people.
The key to designing any workspace is to take into account the individual preferences of employees. There can be many different work styles within a single workplace, and the more flexible companies are in catering to those different styles, the more productive and happy their employees will be.

About the Author
Lynne Lemieux, Founder and President of Alliance Interiors Inc., has devoted more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing growth opportunities for some of Canada’s leading office furniture dealers. Her ability to provide clients with inspiring and versatile interior solutions for both business and home office environments has garnered her title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year in the city of Toronto for 2012. In her spare time, Lynne takes an active interest in politics, public speaking, and philanthropy, but also enjoys gardening, interior decorating, cooking, yoga, and traveling.



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