The psychology of office layouts: Designing workspaces for productivity and well-being

Office trends may shift over time, but one thing remains unchanged: the impact of the office environment on employee health and well-being.

The psychology of office layouts: Designing workspaces for productivity and well-being

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Office trends may shift over time, but one thing remains unchanged: the impact of the office environment on employee health and well-being. Whether it is cubicles or open-plan spaces, how the workplace is designed affects not just productivity but also how employees feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.

As the Indian workforce exhibits a strong preference for office-based work, with 92 per cent of employees expecting to be in the office at least three days a week, according to the Unispace Global Workplace Insights report, the design and layout of office spaces have become increasingly crucial. Moreover, eight in 10 Indian employees believe that remote work limits career prospects, further emphasizing the importance of the physical workplace.

The impact of office design on employee productivity and well-being cannot be understated. According to CBRE, a remarkable 71 per cent of workers are willing to give up other benefits to have a well-designed workplace. Furthermore, the Great Place to Work report highlights that when employees across all demographics experience a great workplace, organizations experience an eight per cent increase in productivity and a 10 per cent increase in the celebration of innovation at work.


As sustainability becomes a growing concern, India’s supply of green-certified office space increased by a remarkable 36 per cent in 2023, according to a joint analysis by CBRE and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). This trend towards sustainable workspaces is expected to continue, aligning with the desire for healthier environments expressed by employees in the Fellowes Workplace Wellness Trend report. The report found that an overwhelming 87 per cent of workers would like their current employer to offer healthier workspace benefits, ranging from wellness rooms, company fitness benefits, sit-stands, healthy lunch options, and ergonomic seating.

Creating inspiring workspaces that cater to employee well-being and productivity requires a holistic approach that considers various factors:

Air Quality: The quality of air within an office can significantly impact employee health and productivity. Implementing measures such as no-smoking policies, green cleaning protocols, air filtration systems, and incorporating office plants can lead to an 11 per cent increase in productivity, according to research by the World Green Building Council.

Water: Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining focus, clarity, and alertness. Providing safe drinking water, installing water coolers, and promoting water challenges can encourage employees to increase their water intake, thereby boosting productivity.

Nourishment: A balanced and nutritious diet directly impacts energy levels and focus. Improving the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting access to processed foods, providing clear food labelling for allergies, and fostering mindful eating spaces can contribute to a healthier and more productive workforce.

Light: Exposure to natural light has been shown to reduce eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision symptoms by 84 per cent, according to a study by Cornell University. Incorporating skylights, controlling glare, maximizing natural lighting, and layering different types of lighting can create a more conducive work environment.

Fitness: Encouraging physical activity through accessible stairways, bicycle storage, adjustable workstations, and dedicated spaces for exercise can boost employee energy levels, alertness, concentration, and decision-making skills.

Comfort: Ergonomically crafted work areas, distraction-free quiet zones, breakout areas, and informal meeting spaces can alleviate muscle fatigue, increase productivity, and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, which are often cited as causes of lost work time.

Mind: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace study revealed that people working in spaces with natural features reported 15 per cent higher levels of overall well-being, six per cent increased productivity, and 15 per cent greater creativity. Incorporating collaborative spaces, relaxation areas, greenery, outdoor spaces, and flexibility in work arrangements can optimize emotional health and foster a positive work environment.

By considering these factors and adopting a human-centred design approach, businesses can create workspaces that enhance productivity while also contributing to the overall well-being of their employees. Research and studies demonstrate that thoughtful workplace design is a worthwhile investment, yielding dividends in the form of increased employee satisfaction, performance, and organizational success.

The writer is the Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Mancer Consulting.