This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT . All opinions are 100% mine.

Effective office design can’t be an afterthought. We all decorate our homes, garages, cottages and other spaces to make them look nice to others and be enjoyable during our downtime. When it comes to office productivity, the way everything looks isn’t nearly as important as how each element functions and supports its employees.

Just ask anyone who works at Shopify’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The tech giant literally transformed an aged distillery into a space that fills each of its staff members with pride and joy. Shopify’s management obviously isn’t interested in feng-shui-level aesthetics. “Function over form” is definitely their mantra, and this is a concept that’s creeping into more and more modern office environments.

CORT office furniture rental
photo credit: CORT

CORT furniture recently published an interesting blog post, titled “Creating Great Office Layouts to Maximize Productivity,” explaining that making a few changes can breathe new life into the workplace, resulting in happier and more productive employees.

But how to actually make it happen? The answer is less flair and more functionality.

Indeed, while modern businesses can dispense with fancy and exotic decorative elements, there are some design elements that are very important to foster a highly creative, productive work space.  Here are five of them:

1. Every office needs dedicated “relaxation areas”

Depending on the size of your office, there might only be one area where employees can relax. Just take a look at the lap of luxury Google employees all over the world enjoy. You’ll note that many of the pictures show employees “working” in areas designed to help them de-stress and relax.

I say, if you’ve got the space, dedicate as many areas as you can to relaxation, which are designed to help employees decompress away from their desk and chair. Some companies don’t even offer desks and chairs, in fact. Instead, they opt for open concept lounge-style designs. Less stress equals more productivity.

2. Embrace contemporary office concepts

Check out what Deloitte offers their employees in terms of seating options. Instead of assigning each employee a desk and chair for the rest of their time with the company, they’ve chosen to bolster creativity in an unusual way.

Deloitte has coined their “no desk of your own” concept specifically to boost creativity. Each employee decides where they’ll sit on a given day based on the people they feel they most need to collab with. For instance, a marketing director might need to join forces with the web design team one day, and researchers or copywriters the next.

Obviously, Deloitte’s headquarters are multi-floored and very spacious — a small business can foster this approach simply by encouraging employees to sit wherever they want, while discouraging people from staking their “territory” with knick-knacks, do-dads, photos, etc.

Quiet office space

3. Try to delegate quiet spaces too

These areas might be the same or entirely different from relaxation areas. There are times when an employee, or team working on a project with big deadlines might need to be absolutely removed from distraction. A quiet area can allow for laser focus, without having to listen to phones ringing or printers printing.

Allow employees to book the room as needed. If space is at a minimum, a larger conference area can be alternatively used, with regulations in place to make sure all who use the room follow rules regarding noise levels and respecting other employee’s privacy.

4. Clutter has no place in a productive environment

It should be a given to the majority who read this that clutter can be very dangerous. Clutter is defined as “a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.” That “mass” doesn’t need to be very big in order for someone to trip over or be distracted by something and hurt themselves.

Clutter is also a great label for coffee cups left strewn about. Papers scattered on tables, opened or unopened packages, and clothing items not hung in their proper space can also be clutter. All of these things can cause hard-working employees to become distracted from the task or tasks at hand. Clutter is a productivity killer!

Bright office space with natural lighting

5. Natural lighting is a must for productivity

Natural light coming in from several windows in each corner of the office is best. However, there are several companies that specialize in bringing light into the office that closely mimics what employees are exposed to when outside. See, humans are designed to work outside during daylight hours, then relax and sleep inside at night.

The wrong kind of lighting can literally tell our brains to go to sleep, rather than work our tail off to get things done! Lighting of the past, typically florescent, gave off a spectrum of lighting that wasn’t present in natural sunlight, which killed inspiration and productivity in employees of those days. Studies have been popping up all over attesting to how much of a difference lighting makes.

From a layout perspective, your natural office lighting should either be natural, coming in through the windows and lighting the office entirely. Alternatively, sun-mimicking lighting should be professionally installed overhead. Make sure there are enough fixtures to light all corners of the office, to keep employees inspired and their eyes wide open.

Conclusion

Follow the five office layout tips mentioned and productivity will definitely skyrocket. There are likely to be costs involved, but consider those expenses an investment rather than a burden to be bared.

After all, how productive your business is directly determines how competitive and innovative it is in the marketplace, and thus how well you stack up against the competition!

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