How to Create Productive Workspaces for Your Company

A company's productivity is closely linked to its environment and team members, with workplace design playing a powerful role in uniting the two.

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By Chuck Cohn


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In recent years, the physical design of the typical workplace has undergone significant change. Many organizations have shifted from individual cubicles and private offices to open-plan designs, and have implemented features like standing desks and whiteboard walls to emphasize increased focus, teamwork and flexibility.

While the perfect workspace must be unique when it comes to any particular business, there are common steps that every organization can take to realize its ideal environment.

If you too are hoping to create productive workspaces for your company, these three steps may be of use to you:

1. Decide how you will measure the productivity of your workspace.

Each company measures productivity differently. Your business goals and the characteristics of your workforce will influence the metrics you choose. For instance, do you prefer to take a more traditional approach, and to measure productivity by cost per square foot or revenue per square foot of office space?

Conversely, do you favor an approach that focuses on team members as individuals, and factors such as the number of hours that staff members sit or stand at their desks, or the number of interactions they have with other team members? Will you measure productivity according to a staff happiness scale? Ultimately, you may find that one productivity metric is sufficient, or you may track several.

2. Consider modular arrangements.

According to a 2016 Gensler survey, innovative companies are five times more likely than less innovative businesses to balance group and individual workspaces. In Gensler's report, the most innovative companies had workspaces that were 44 percent open office and 45 percent private office, while the least innovative organizations were 60 percent open office and 30 percent private office.

What does this mean for your business? Whenever possible, strike a balance between open and closed workspaces. Your sales team may benefit from an open space that allows for conversation and movement, while the developers on your staff may appreciate a quiet area where they can concentrate and write code without interruption.

A modular workspace allows you to meet both ideals simultaneously and enables your team members to move between different spaces as their roles dictate.

3. Build in employee choice.

The ability to alter your workspace throughout the day -- as your mood or task requires -- can have a significant impact on a staff member's well-being and productivity. An act as simple as installing adjustable window blinds can permit team members to decide how much sunlight they would like to have in their space. And that in turn may affect their efficiency and workplace outlook.

Other design options, like desks on wheels or desks whose height can be adjusted (allowing for sitting or standing), can quickly and easily broaden the choices available to your staff. Our office in St. Louis, for example, features motorized standing desks, and our team members alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.

A company's productivity is closely linked to its environment and its team members, with workplace design playing a powerful role in uniting the two ultimately helping or hindering staff productivity. Once you determine what metrics you will measure to chart that goal, you can develop any number of spaces (from small shared offices to large open floors with comfortable, communal seating) that foster collaboration, creativity and the achievement of your goals.
Chuck Cohn

CEO and Founder of Varsity Tutors

Chuck Cohn is the CEO and founder of Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

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