Four Elements to Increase Employee Satisfaction and Create a Productive Work Environment

Now, more than ever, companies are investing in their office’s design. It is well-known that the professional world is undergoing many changes, making it vital for employers to use resources to enhance company culture. A study by Gallup reported that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. That leaves 78+ million unhappy workers who probably wouldn’t hesitate if presented with another job opportunity. Investing in your office is an investment in your employees, who are the driving force behind your company’s success.

When designing a space, there are four areas of focus: layout, color, lighting, and climate. Each element plays a role in building and maintaining a productive work environment. Not only does a balanced design increase productivity, but it also improves employee satisfaction, health, and retention. How layout, color, lighting, and climate are used is dependent on the business; there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. However, the following are general ideas on how they can be used in accordance with a company’s goals, employees, and overall space.

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1. Layout: What is the Best Layout in a Workspace?

Traditional layouts are becoming less common, as employers are transitioning to open layouts. Modern floor plans are focused on face-to-face interaction making cubicles few and far between. Open layouts are a collaborative concept, encouraging employees to share a big room filled with desks, tools, and technology. This concept is continuing to become more popular because it increases productivity, creativity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.

The main benefit of an open office space is the cost; these are cheaper than private offices. The modern layout consumes less space, therefore, requires less square footage to rent or buy. In addition, furnishing the design is less expensive since employees are collaborating by sharing desks, screens, and other types of technology.

Like anything, there are pros and cons to modern office spaces. Open concepts can be distracting and lack privacy. Incorporating designated areas for privacy combats these issues. Private settings promote focused work and are great for hybrid collaborations. It also allows employees to gain control over how they want to work and decorate their space (within reason). Privacy can be created from more traditional settings, like meeting rooms or room accessories. A helpful accessory to create privacy is the Boundary Tent by Steelcase. This is a versatile freestanding screen that offers on-demand privacy for employees. It can be used as needed, as it is easy to maneuver throughout the office. To view more options to promote focus and privacy in an open concept, have a look at these business office furniture selections.

2. Colors: What Colors Are Best in the Workspace?

Color psychology shows how hues impact human emotions. This has a measurable impact on effective teamwork within the workplace. A recent study from the University of Texas found that offices painted with white and beige decrease employee satisfaction, so much so, that it may lead to feelings of depression. When choosing a color scheme for the office, it is important to note how colors relate to emotions.

  • Warm tones: Warm color schemes tend to elicit emotions of happiness and creativity. Some creative office spaces, such as marketing agencies, may benefit from warmer tones. These colors include oranges, reds, and yellows.
  • Cooler tones: Cooler color schemes promote relaxation, calming the nervous system while increasing productivity and creativity. These colors include greens, blues, and purples.

When creating a palette, keep in mind that accent colors are easy to incorporate. For example, an office space that hosts creative teams could benefit from energizing hallway paintings while the workspace is more cool-toned with funky floor tiles. Adding colorful flares from accessories, such as pillows or rugs, give subtle pops of color to enhance a space.

There isn’t just one specific formula to ensure a productive and effective work environment. Color choices are dependent on your business and the goals you want to accomplish. Before establishing a color scheme, look at your industry, the size of your space, how much natural lighting is available, and how you want your employees to feel.

3. Lighting: Why is Good Lighting Important in the Workplace?

The importance of lighting is not limited to photographers—it also plays a role in everything, including office spaces. This element significantly impacts professionals’ wellbeing, considering people spend eight-plus hours a day working beneath their employer’s lighting. It can be a make-it or break-it factor for retaining employee satisfaction, health, and productivity.

Many people have experienced the feeling of bright fluorescent lights. Many offices use fluorescent bulbs because they are long-lasting and inexpensive. However, it can have a negative impact on employees. The human eye does eventually adjust to fluorescent lights, but not without strain. The intense flickering white glare can lead to fatigue and unproductivity, creating poor employee satisfaction. This, combined with the screen’s blue-spectrum light, which interferes with melatonin production, can impact sleep patterns. This could potentially lead to a downward health spiral for an employee. Inevitably, when employees are not healthy, this hinders productivity and their quality of work. On the other hand, not enough lighting can cause employees to squint at a screen. Again, leading to more health issues like dry eyes or strain.

To create optimal lighting, use soft lighting; typically found from windows or skylights. The human eye has the easiest time adjusting to this, preventing eye strain or other health issues. To complement natural light (or if it is not available), install general overhead lighting that softly illuminates the space. This should be enough for employees to see clearly without being too bright to strain the eyes. In addition, adding focused task lighting, like desk lamps, are great for employees to gain control over how they want to see. An example of this is dash by Steelcase, a sleek LED desk lamp that eliminates contrast and shadows in private office spaces. It is available in a wide range of colors and has dimming control from 15% to 100%.

If these alternatives are not an option and you have fluorescent lights in your space, opt for fluorescent light covers to minimize the glare.

4. Climate: What is the Best Climate for a Workspace?

A new study from View found that quality air, natural light, and temperature significantly impact employee engagement, productivity, and health. An office should not be too hot or too cold. To encourage your employees to focus, aim for a temperature between 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius) and 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 Celsius). This helps employees to focus on their work instead of  discomfort from the environment.

Poor ventilation could make workers susceptible to allergies and illnesses while at work. To combat allergies and airborne illness, especially in the winter months, the Guardiair Air Filtration Unit is a great ally to have in the office. It helps mitigate the spread of particles while promoting cleaner air.

In addition, having ventilation that does not make excessive white noise is important as well. Loud noises can potentially distract the employees and hinder communication in hybrid meetings. To reduce excessive noise, fill empty spaces. Rooms with tile, high ceilings, and minimal furniture tend to echo white noise. Adding carpets, tapestries, or rugs on the floor can help absorb some of the ambient sounds in your space. While it doesn’t remove all background noise, you will see significant improvements if you use them correctly with other techniques like deploying absorptive panels.


Are you interested in optimizing your office space for maximum productivity? Speak with our design experts to create a modern office space with business office furniture that suits your professional needs.