Studies Show the Key to Improving Productivity: Give Workers Control Over Their Office Space

increase productivityThere is much debate over how to engage employees and increase productivity. Some companies opt for open space to increase collaboration, while others stick with cubicle designs to give employees a measure of privacy. Others turn to designers to create color schemes that stimulate the senses. There are endless opinions as to just what is the right approach. Three studies by the University of Exeter’s School of Psychology in the United Kingdom reached an interesting conclusion, increase productivity by giving employees more control.

More Control = More Motivation

Researchers surveyed 2,000 office workers and carried out two specific experiments, focusing on their attitudes toward their assignments and worker efficiency under varying circumstances. The surveys also ascertained the worker’s level of control over his or her work space. The results showed the more control a worker has over his or her work space design, the happier and more motivated they will be. They were physically more comfortable, had better relationships with their employers and were more optimistic about their jobs overall.

Empowered to Perform

Further research examined the productivity of workers in a lean work space versus an enriched environment. Lean was defined as bare and functional, with minimal decorations. Enriched work spaces are those with more decor, such as pictures and plants. The study found employees in an enriched environment performed 17 percent better. However, the results were even better when researchers compared employees empowered to design their own area versus those that work in areas designed by their managers. Empowered employees were 32 percent more productive.


Keeping a productive team engaged is a priority for any business. Researchers concluded, “All this could have a huge impact for firms of any size, yet employers rarely consider the psychological ramifications of the way they manage space. By paying more attention to employees’ needs they can boost well-being and productivity at minimal cost.” Simply involving employees in the process can potentially have huge benefits. Some offices may be too large to include everyone. However, managers can pick representatives from across departments and job level to provide input. Think of ways to let each employee individualize his or her work space. The experts at The Office Planning Group are ready to help with all your office furniture needs. Let our professionals help create an engaging and motivated atmosphere for your staff. Contact us to learn more.

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