Improving the performance of employees is the main goal of clever organizations. In companies where most of the work involves knowledge, the employees are the driving force that keeps the organization growing, transforming, developing and innovating.
One of the most powerful tools that can help in boosting the performance of your employees is to provide them with a friendly workplace. Aside from increasing productivity, it can also improve the health and wellness of your employees.
How can the workplace help in improving employees’ performance? It is important that the workplace must be able to accommodate all the tasks that are involved in knowledge work. For instance, innovation, creativity, collaboration, intense thinking, etc.
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What Are The Factors That Are Involved In Human Performance?
Organizational psychologists believe that human performance is a combination of ability, motivation, and opportunity. Ability is determined whether the employee can accomplish the task. Motivation is the person’s desire to do the task, while opportunity pertains to accessibility.
Realizing that human performance is influenced by a lot of factors, it is important that there must be some support from the workplace. But how can the workplace help in boosting the performance of the employees?
According to Judith Heerwagen, a program specialist, productivity and the workplace are somehow associated in several ways.
A workplace can provide a positive influence on a person’s ability by making it comfortable with lesser health and safety risks. Additionally, the person must be able to control and change the condition of the environment.
A workplace can enhance motivation by promoting positive feelings, and psychological engagement. Moods can affect a person’s attitude and thought processes.
A workplace can improve the aspect of opportunity by implementing equal access to amenities and facilities that can minimize health and safety risks. So, what particular workplace strategies should you implement in order to provide the right blend of ability, motivation, and opportunity? Here are ten workplace design considerations that can help in enhancing human performance.
Workplace Design Ideas To Improve Human Performance
1. Comfortable Temperature
Having the right temperature, airflow, and humidity can make a person feel comfortable in the workplace. When there are some people who are complaining about the temperature, sometimes this can distract you.
The key is to set the temperature making it ideal for the workplace. A slightly lower temperature can reduce health risks and can improve accuracy on simulated tasks. Based on research, individual control on temperature can improve productivity.
You can provide personal control of airflow by installing underfloor air. If possible, try to provide individual control on every workstation. Having operable windows or window coverings can also help in controlling the airflow, sunlight, and temperature in a particular space.
2. Access to Nature, Landscapes, and Sunshine
Typically, most of us want to be surrounded by nature. As humans, we have an intimate bond with other living systems. Also, it is beneficial that people should stay outside during the day even for just a short period.
Having access to nature and sunlight can provide a positive impact on a person’s well-being. Most people would want to be in a higher place where they could look down. They want an open space surrounded by trees and shrubs. Preferably, it should be close to a body of water, for instance, a lake or a river.
When organizing the floor plan, try to maximize the natural light that penetrates the floor. For instance, the confined spaces should be placed at the center of the building. While the open spaces will be placed at the edge near the windows. When there is no need for visual privacy, it is preferable to use glass. When sharing spaces, try to focus more on beautiful views. As much as possible, the building must have some outdoor areas where employees could take a break.
3. Sensory Variation And Variability
Aside from having access to nature, landscapes, and sunlight, most people would choose to have sensory change and variability. Insufficient visual stimulation could affect a person’s capacity to remain alert. There is less productivity when workstations have the same texture and are made of neutral colors.
Sensory variation and variability include the ability to view outdoors, improvement in the lightings and highlights, materials that are chosen should have receptive occurrence in the brain as well as moderation in the visual complexity. It is important that the workplace should be stimulating so that the employees won’t lose their focus and creativity. When there is a lack of stimulation, then it might result in boredom and laziness.
Adding some texture to certain areas could help a lot. For instance, you could use natural materials such as plants, wood, and natural fibers. The presence of long corridors can be reduced by adding or changing the graphics, patterns, color, and texture.
4. Variation In Colors
The perception of color may vary from one person to another. Most often, it will depend on their culture and life experiences. But when it comes to the work environment, colors are perceived differently. Generally, brighter colors provide more focus and accuracy. Red provides strength and energy, hence it signifies endurance and ambition. Blue has a calming and cooling effect, making it perfect for creative thinking and mental control. Yellow provides clear thinking and alertness. Pink can help in minimizing the feeling of loneliness, despair, anger, and hardship. Orange can help in boosting self-confidence and can ease your feelings.
When using colors, it should not be based on your personal preference but rather on the desired attitudes and emotions that you want to promote. There should be some variation in the colors being used in the workplace. Keep in mind that lighter colors can help in increasing the amount of natural light.
5. Managing Noise
Most often, noise can be a great issue. However, the effect of noise on productivity will likely depend on the person’s preference as well as the type of work that he is currently doing. The best solution is to enable workers to manage noise by providing a door to their room.
Typically, in an open office environment, noise can always be perceived. However, this will depend on how the area was organized as well as the type of work that is being done. Distraction from work can be prevented if employees are provided with some control over the noise.
When employees are doing normal tasks, sometimes noise interruptions can be a good thing since it can provide them the stimulation that they need. On the contrary, if they are doing complex works, then noise interruptions might lessen their motivation to work.
In order to be able to control noise in the workplace, designers suggest three strategies. These are absorption, blocking, and coverings. Absorption can be achieved by installing acoustical fabrics, ceiling, and carpet. While blocking can be accomplished by using panels, walls, screens, partitions. Covering relates to sound masking. If you want to be able to control noise in your workplace, then you should incorporate these strategies into your design.
As much as possible noisy spaces must be separated from quiet areas. Try to create some ways wherein workers could communicate with each other without disturbing other people. If you have an open space environment, then the people that are doing the same work must be grouped together. You could implement a “virtual door” scheme wherein the employees that are located in the open workstation do not have an opportunity to talk. To avoid noise, workers could wear headsets. Another way would be to establish a quiet area as well as a collaboration area for your employees.
6. The Perception Of Space and Crowding
Sometimes crowding can lead to stress. It can also make employees feel dissatisfied with their workplace. The perception of space and crowding will vary based on a person’s gender, personal preference, and cultural background.
According to Sally Augustin, an expert in perceiving space, people will feel that they are less crowded if the room has high ceilings or has mirrors on the walls. At the same time, the room should look lighter and brighter.
Most likely, men are the ones who feel crowded than women. This is because men have good external vision compared to women. They can quickly notice when there are other people in the same space.
If you work in higher buildings, then you might feel more crowded than those who don’t. However, it has a lesser effect on people who are living in tall buildings. Most probably because they can enjoy good views and daylight.
Using plants, furniture, and other embellishing elements can greatly help in reducing the perception of crowding.
The feeling of being in a crowded space can be reduced by adjusting a worker’s workspace in such a way that there will be limited views of other workstations. Another method to minimize the perception of crowding would be to provide access to views through the windows. The best way to do this is to relocate the office or conference room into the interior of the space.
7. Human Factors
When designing workplaces, it should consider the needs and the limitations of the people who will be occupying that place. Human factors actually cover a broad area including product design, ergonomics, minimizing human mistakes, workplace security, human skills, as well as the interaction between humans and computers.
Employees must be provided with adjustable furniture so they can adjust their workspaces to make them feel more comfortable. Using task lights, flexible chairs and desks, as well as keyboard trays can greatly contribute to the employees well being.
Efficient technology should be provided in different work settings. For instance, collaboration spaces must be equipped with the same technology, making it more natural for employees to move from one space to another.
Provide tools and technologies that motivate mobility among employees. For instance, give them laptops and mobile devices. VoIP phones can also allow them to move from one desk to another while making a call.
Employees must be encouraged to use the stairs at all times. For instance, let them know that using the stairs can burn a lot of calories. Stairs must be designed in such a way that it is more visible and accessible.
You could also inspire your workers to move around by providing them with wearable devices, for instance, pedometers. Movement should not only be encouraged inside the workplace but also on the outside. For instance, initiate a fun contest wherein employees who have the most number of steps will get prizes.
8. Indoor Air Quality
Today, organizations are trying to make their workplaces as healthy as possible. This is because it has a huge impact on their health insurance as well as their productivity. Aside from considering human factors, organizations should also consider the health of their workers.
In some industries, workers are required to spend a lot of time indoors. Unfortunately, the indoor environment can affect the workers’ health, productivity as well as the quality of life. Most often, the pollutants on indoor settings are far greater than those on the outside. These pollutants could come from building materials, maintenance, household cleaning materials, etc.
When purchasing furniture, paint, or carpet for your workplace, make sure that it has lesser particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause illness. Be sure that the equipment that you use include Energy Star labels.
Always have a regular schedule for maintenance of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), as well as other equipment that is used in the workplace. Adding plants to the workplace can help in cleaning the air.
9. Choice of Work Setting
In today’s world, employees involved in knowledge work needs a lot of collaboration and concentration. That is why it is important to have a well-designed workplace. In this way, employees will have a chance to decide when and how to use them.
Susan Cain, the author of the book, “Quiet, The Power of Introverts,” revealed that the best office will let the employee decide the level of stimulation that he requires at a certain time. It should have an area for privacy, but at the same time, it should also have an area where employees can come together and hang out. Working with a team is fine, however, it is also important that every member of the team should be given the chance to do their own things.
The workplace should include different varieties of settings in order to support different varieties of works. Quiet areas are intended for concentration. There should also be a space for collaboration. Provide also a place for learning and socializing.
Technology that allows people to focus on their work should also be provided. This includes headsets, sound masking, etc. They also require technology for collaboration so they can communicate easily.
10. Employee Engagement
Employee engagement and worker satisfaction are somehow related to each other. Consequently, this can influence productivity and innovation. When employees are more engaged, they can become more productive and more effective compared to the ones who are less engaged. Most likely, these engaged employees will work longer with the company and they will become their best source of new ideas.
In order to achieve employee engagement, workspaces must have more visibility, mobility, and openness. In this way, employees will get a chance to see each other and collaborate. These collaborative spaces must make employees feel comfortable. Making awards and recognition visible can also encourage employee engagement.