If you could somehow travel back in time fifty years and take a look at what offices looked like at the end of the 1960s, you’d be shocked. Most looked like classrooms, with employees sitting in rows behind single desks working their way through mountains of paperwork.
Today, though, the modern office is a different animal. It’s bright, colourful and vibrant. Some companies, though, have taken these improvements to the extreme and beyond. Perhaps the best example of this is Google. It’s offices in Palo Alto and Zurich are less working environment and more kid’s playground. There are slides from one floor to the next, ball pools, games rooms and, of course, gyms.
Google isn’t doing all this for the fun of it. It’s doing it so that it can extract the maximum value for the people who work there. The world’s leading tech company knows that if people feel relaxed, healthy and happy, they’ll produce their very best work and have their most creative ideas.
The good thing about Google’s obsession with its offices is that smaller businesses can copy its example, improving the output of their own workers in the process. Most companies probably don’t want to install a slide that allows people to shoot down to the canteen from the upper floors, but some will want to think about the way that their offices look to ensure maximum productivity. Here’s how.
Researchers have known for a long time now that the color of the environment affects worker productivity. Google knows this too, which is why they’re so discerning when choosing commercial painting services. According to psychologist Angela Wright, different colors have different effects. Blue, for instance, helps to stimulate the mind and encourages focus. Yellow helps with creativity and green helps keep people calm. You can imagine creative design companies choosing a mainly yellow palette while call centers might benefit from being painted green so that staff remain calm when dealing with difficult customers.
Fall In Love With Nature
Two studies, one from 2011 and one from 2013, have shown that having plants in the office helps to improve worker productivity. There are a number of reasons for this, but researchers think that the overriding effect is that it helps people feel as if they are in nature, something which naturally causes them to be more relaxed. Plants bring other benefits to offices too, like reducing mold buildup and filtering the air.
Ditch Open Plan Spaces
Ditching open plan offices might sound sacrilegious, but it’s actually something that leading companies, like Google, are doing. The reason for this is that open plan offices are now believed to reduce worker concentration and decrease stress. Leading companies, therefore, are experimenting with installing different types of spaces into their working environment. Some spaces are for solo work. Others are for meeting in small groups. And others still are for just chilling out during the lunch break.
It’s clear that businesses still have a lot to learn when it comes to how to design an office. Will you be redecorating yours soon?
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