A new research from the University of Exeter in the UK has suggested that employees who have control over the design and layout of their workspace are not only happier and healthier — they're also up to 32 pc more productive.
Studies by the University's School of Psychology have revealed the potential for remarkable improvements in workers' attitudes to their jobs by allowing them to personalise their offices.
Dr Craig Knight conducted the research as part of his PhD and is now Director of PRISM – a company that deals with space issues in the workplace.
"When people feel uncomfortable in their surroundings they are less engaged – not only with the space but also with what they do in it. If they can have some control, that all changes and people report being happier at work, identifying more with their employer, and are more efficient when doing their jobs,” he said.
The research involved more than 2,000 office workers in a series of studies looking at attitudes to — and productivity within — working space. This included two surveys of workers' attitudes carried out via online questionnaires, as well as two experiments which examined workers' efficiency when carrying out tasks under different conditions.
The surveys assessed the level of control workers had over their space — ranging from none at all to being fully consulted over design changes. Workers were then asked a series of questions about how they felt about their workspace and their jobs.
Results consistently showed that the more control people had over their office spaces, the happier and more motivated they were in their jobs. They felt physically more comfortable at work, identified more with their employers, and felt more positive about their jobs in general.
Two further studies, one at the University and another in commercial offices saw participants take on a series of tasks in a workspace that was either lean (bare and functional), enriched (decorated with plants and pictures), empowered (allowing the individual to design the area) or disempowered (where the individual's design was redesigned by a 'manager').
People working in enriched spaces were 17 pc more productive than those in lean spaces, but those sitting at empowered desks were even more efficient — being 32 pc more productive than their lean counterparts without any increase in errors.