Does Office Furniture Affect Productivity? The Real Truth Behind Your Workspace

Studies have shown that the happiness of your workforce can rest heavily on the environment itself – even down to the desks, lighting and seats. In a study back in 2003 by Management Today, 97% of employees from a range of UK companies responded that they regarded their place of work as a symbol of whether or not they were valued by their employer.

What’s interesting about the survey is only 37% thought that their offices had been designed ‘with people in mind’, and less than one-third admitted that they were ashamed of bringing over clients and customers. It’s obvious to assume the state of these business environments are due to cost cutting measures, but is there a connection between office design and business performance, and why should businesses care?

The studies identified the impact of comfort requirements, furniture, and overall design; and the indirect effects of changing organisational structures and patterns of work affected by the new technologies were investigated. The trend whereby the interior design of offices and the performance of its employee showed an undeniable correlation.

When it comes to your office environment, there is an established list of factors that affect the productivity of a workforce. And since the success of a company often rides on its ability to hire and retain skilled workers, it should come as no surprise that businesses are increasingly looking for ways to support their employees and encourage a strong company culture.

Workplace Performance ‘The Three E’s’

Studies evaluated workplace performance by looking at the three e’s (efficiency, effectiveness and expression).

  • Efficiency: this is about businesses trying to get the most “bang for their buck” regarding the occupancy costs and other expenses. These are the essential costs of having a physical workplace including rent, heating, lighting, decor, equipment and maintenance.
  • Effectiveness: this is about getting the most out of people. Nicer working environments can increase the output and improve the quality of work being done there. However, effectiveness often gets overlooked in favour of efficiency. Some businesses may not think that the perceived benefits of having a more pleasant workplace justifies the higher costs.
  • Expression: this is about getting the most out of the brand. Organisations need to consider what impression they give off, not only to the workers, but to those who visit and who they do business with. The way a workplace looks both inside and out has a big effect on how people perceive the image and values of the brand.

Efficiency measures are direct and clear cut. It is easy to look at where businesses are spending money and where costs can be cut. Effectiveness and expression measures are indirect and more difficult to assess. They don’t give guaranteed results like ‘efficiency’ does. However, from our experience we can confidently say that measuring effectiveness and expression, and acting on the results can have a much more positive impact on business performance than any cost cutting measures.

But what should you look out for when it comes to a happy office?

Furniture might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but studies have proved the correlation between the ergonomics of office space and the high importance it plays in workforce productivity. Understanding the relationship between employees and the workspace will help to promote the business case for increasing quality, health and environmental efficiency of spaces. And why bother investing in your office furniture? The reasons are actually fairly obvious. The primary reason is for comfort. Without feeling comfortable, the average worker is not going to perform at his or her best. If you’ve ever had to work in an office that has been too hot, cold, noisy, dark or cramped, then you’ll appreciate just how much the little things can sometimes affect our day-to-day work. Even the slightest distraction can shave minutes off a working day, which soon adds up to many a wasted hour when these distractions affect the entire workforce.

An efficient office design is defined by the time and money saved by the employees and by how it streamlines workflow and processes. Interior and exterior design can help to increase the productivity of your company through multiple tools, but this will only be achieved after a thorough study of your resources, your needs and your goals. If the design of your office allows the employees to work effectively within their time constraints and becomes a definite benefit for your company, then it is a success. Read our case study to find out how Steel Vintage helped Amigo Loans design the perfect industrial style environment for their Head Office: Vintage industrial modular office.

James Benamor (Owner and Managing Director, Amigo Loans) said this,

“We didn’t want the usual office solution to seating our staff. We needed a design which worked in our space, using materials which reflect our own ethos and principles of quality and perfection – simple yet beautiful. We wanted people sitting ‘bench style’ to aid talking and sharing ideas, yet wanted to be able to reconfigure layout if and when needed”.

Other factors to consider in each and every office space are the lighting, and shape of the furniture itself. Furniture arrangements with rounded edges rather than straight ones have been linked with increased creativity, productivity and positive emotions. Cast your mind back to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and you can see why even in Medieval times having a table with no edges created a sense of equality and sharing amongst those who sat at it. But the office logistics don’t end there –  even having plants in the office has shown to help staff to recover more quickly from challenging or arduous tasks, making that quick trip to the garden centre to stock up on plant pots well worth it.

In conclusion

Thinking about what office furniture to buy is a significant consideration for your business, more so than what it may initially seem. Talk to your staff from the start and ask for their opinions. Higher quality office furniture may seem expensive at first, but it does provide long term value with increased productivity and morale amongst staff. It will also save you money in the long-run because it won’t need replacing as often.

Whatever works best for your company and your staff, Steel Vintage can help. We produce beautifully designed, handcrafted office furniture to suit all environments. Discounts are available for bulk purchases.

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