Designing for workplace productivity

The built environment is a major factor that affects productivity in the workplace. The Office for National Statistics has reported that the UK’s productivity is well behind those of our European neighbours. As Interior Design consultant specialists we want to understand why and how interior workplace design can help improve this.

The 24/7 society is founded upon constant connectivity to data and pervades our work and homes.  The workspace is no longer a box people go to, leaving themselves at the door when they enter and assuming user profiles from 9-5.

If not managed carefully, the concept of work/life balance could be severely challenged.  If the workplace is accessible 24/7, people could be using it as an opportunity to work longer hours. Organisations need to carefully assess why people are getting in early or working late – it could be, above all else, a wellbeing issue.

That said, the workspace does need to be a place that enables choice on how, where and when people work.  We have a productivity issue in the UK as we are regularly reminded by the ONS. The latest UK productivity results made difficult reading. Creating a work environment that supports staff to be more efficient could help to improve the productivity of UK workplaces.

Morning Larks & Night Owls

Extentia Group, our group company, recently published a survey of over 1100 UK workers to understand productivity output of those who are Morning Larks (people who are most productive early in the day) or Night Owls (those who are most productive late afternoon and into the evening). The results are fascinating and tell us that people are not going into work at times when they are naturally most productive for a host of reasons.

Many of these centre around the workplace environment so we thought we’d share a few design approach ideas that could help make your workplace more hospitable for your staff and support increased productivity for your business.

When designing office space, the workplace designer needs to be mindful of two things - permissions and the empowerment to choose. Considerations include:

  • The safety of staff working in partially occupied buildings at either end of the day. Perhaps remote floors could be ‘locked down’ to concentrate employees into key suitable co-working areas close to circulation
  • Creating of small-scale neighbourhoods so people don’t feel exposed or isolated in a vast open-plan office with few others around
  • Making people feel safe with building surveillance and security
  • Creatively using building engineering services to respond to 24/7 cycles. An example could be using lighting to reflect circadian rhythms
  • Creating an intelligent building which can respond to user activity. This could ensure energy usage reflects the actual demand for heating and cooling, rather than heating or cooling the full building 24 hours a day– an unnecessary and costly operation
  • Understanding the change management needs within an organisation to support Larks and Owls alike – how does the workplace foster collaboration between the two?
  • Larks and Owls may be responding to life issues such as caring or family obligations. How can an organisation support them to ensure they are supported in their choices?


At SpaceInvader we’re experts on workplace design and would love to talk to you about how we can transform your spaces into inspiring and motivational places for your staff. Take a look at some of our work and get in touch if you’d like any further information.