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Sep 23, 2014

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The Science Behind a Great Workspace

The spaces we occupy affect us psychologically, and therefore impact our creativity and performance at work.
The Science Behind a Great Workspace
  Neuroscience has proven that our brain is malleable even in our adulthood. The surrounding environment has a huge impact both on the way our brains develop and how that brain is transformed into a unique human mind. In this line of thought, the spaces we occupy shape who we are and how we behave. Thus we can conclude that our work space has a big impact on both our psychological well-being and performance.

  Considering the amount of time an employee spends at work it is crucial that organization carefully design and cultivate an environment that supports employee performance and reinforces the corporate culture.

  According to Beatriz Arantes, psychologist and senior researcher at Steelcase, "Companies can have a profound impact on shaping emotions--for better or worse--simply through the design of their office. When the physical environment impacts how an employee feels--and therefore, performs at work--workspace design becomes a lot more imperative to the bottom line".

  Here are some ways business leaders can achive this:

1. Let your employees engage with their surroundings.

  Providing a clean and distraction-free workspace is not the best strategy to increase your employees productivity and performance. Studies have shown that this type of office generates a 32% drop in worker's well-being and reduces their productivity by 15%. In fact, science has shown that clean and sterile environments may cause our brain to shrink, while stimulating environments can increase the volume of our brains by 15%.

  Dr Craig Knight, a psychologist at Exeter University said that allowing employees to personalize their working area could improve their performance in the office. According to his findings, employees respond better in spaces that have been enriched with pictures and plants. Moreover, employees allowed to enrich the space themselves with their own things are 32% more productive than those don't have control over their workspace. In addition, they tend to feel more identified with their employer, strengthen their commitment to teamwork and efficiency.

  Similarly, forcing employees to always maintain a clean desk, only diminishes their creativity. According the findings of the University of Minnesota, a messy environment boost people's imagination. Therefore, part of given your employees control over their workspace, is letting them manage their organization.

2. Use the right Colors

  Colors have a psychological effect on people. Companies can use them to manipulate how people associate features to their products and services, or to influence the behavior of both clients and employees within the organization.

  People associate colors like blue and green with the nature which helps workers recover from demanding activities and reduce stress levels. They also boost the creativity of people. Therefore, it is advisable to use plants as they not only provide a greater sense of freedom, but also reduce pollution of the office. In addition, you can provide this feeling of freedom by with higher ceilings.

   If you are interested in other articles on the psychology of color in the work space, check this infographic, this article about how to transform your workspace with color, or finally learn how to use colors to give personality to your brand or company.

3. Create spaces that promote interaction between workers

  Create formal and informal spaces where your employees can connect in person and not only through their technological devices. Having close friends and positive interactions at work significantly increases engagement. According to a research conducted by the University of Virginia, workers stay on the job longer when they're plugged into a social group.

Related post: Why Employees Quit Their Job

  Try using round tables, which help create a collective mindset. Rounded spaces triggered more activity in brain regions associated with reward and aesthetic appreciation. Moreover, rounded furniture is perceived as more as more pleasing and inviting, which promotes a friendly communication. Therefore, it is better to choose curved and rounded furniture rather than sharp and straight-edged.

  Finally, if you really want to promote an open culture, and the interaction between your workers, eliminate the offices. Instead provide ample and well equipped spaces, where employees can work individually or in teams, and rotate according to their needs. This approach increases the interaction between employees, which allows workers across the organization to enjoy a better communication and perspective of how the company works, its objectives, and how they fit on them.

  In companies like HubSpot not even the company’s founders have an office. This strategy had very good results. They rotate desk arrangements regularly and assign seating by pulling names out of a hat. The company has noted that this strategy has allowed their employees to enjoy better and easier interactions with others. Workers also appreciate the trust offered to them by company management, and respond by doing their jobs well.

  Clearly the spaces we occupy affects our productivity and morale, thus as leaders, we must design a stimulating space for both your employees and ourselves.