Hi, I’m Imogen – one of the newest Inventiologist’s at the Inventium Sydney office. For me, working at Inventium has heralded a huge number of exciting changes, including that it is the first time I’ve worked in one of those offices – you know – the ones with pot plants, couches and windows with views.

I’ve always been one of those ‘go with the flow’ people – happy to work wherever I’m put. I’ve even worked in an office known as ‘The Cage’ – which was underground and surrounded by wire-fenced walls. Frankly, I was never overly concerned and always thought of upgrades to my workspace as ‘nice to haves’, not ‘must haves’.

So when I moved to the Inventium office I was struck by a couple of things. Firstly, that I like it! And secondly, that I don’t know why I wasn’t more interested in the makeup of my workspace (the place where I have spent 40+ hours per week) before!

It turns out there’s loads of research that shows our working environment has a huge impact; not only on productivity, but also on general health and wellbeing.

Which got me thinking – is there such a thing as an ideal office design? One that suits both employees and employers, including when it comes to the bottom line?

The short answer to that is…no. But there is direction available about what mutually beneficial ‘best practice’ office design might look like.

A 2010 study by psychologists Hallam & Knight can point us in the right direction. Their study saw participants experience working in four different office set-ups, ranging from very sparsely decorated – containing only the tools necessary to complete their tasks, to richly decorated with pot plants and pictures. One set-up involved participants empowered to arrange the office decorations as they chose. In another participants arranged the office decorations only to have someone ‘undo’ their decorations.

The main finding from the study is that a stimulating working environment is important for boosting employee productivity – but more important is that employees have some autonomy over that environment.

If you want to create an office environment that generates productivity outcomes, here are a few things you might consider:

  • providing staff with a selection of artefacts that they can use to decorate their own workspace,
  • bringing nature into your office – through views, wooden finishes or pot plants. If you can’t manage a view, just the visual representation of nature increases our creativity, and was also shown to increase productivity in the Hallam & Knight study,
  • and above all, give your employees ongoing autonomy over their workspace. It will make them feel empowered, happy and more productive.

If you’d like to chat more about places and spaces that foster productivity, creativity and innovation, or if you want to nerd-out about the history of modern office design, I’d love to hear from you! You can find me at imogen@inventium.com.au.

Photo credit: officesnapshots.com