Link Between Layout and Employee Productivity


If it takes 10 minutes by car to get someplace and you get stuck in the traffic, you know the ETA will significantly differ. In traffic, the time it takes you to get somewhere is affected by more than just distance. It also depends on the obstacles.

So, if traffic efficiency is a determining factor in productivity, improving the layout would be the solution, right? Yes… partially!

The thing is that not all obstacles are physical. We could easily label every distraction as an obstacle when talking about productivity. Feeling a lack of privacy is also an obstacle. The same goes for the lack of ownership of your workstation.

Read on to learn more about the link between the layout and employee productivity and your options to use this phenomenon to your advantage.

To simplify it, we’ll do a split by the office type.

Efficient open office space

When talking about a workplace, most people immediately envision office space. It’s not like people only work in offices; however, this type of working environment has fewer solutions in terms of ideal layout. To elaborate, consider perfect layouts in the:

  • Retail stores
  • Warehouses
  • Factories

They are well known. These topics have been discussed for centuries, and we can now consider them solved.

On the other hand, many challenges need addressing regarding office space, especially an open office.

First, we abandoned the cubicle system because some people felt imprisoned. While privacy was much higher, as well as noise reduction, the sense of isolation harmed one’s psyche and morale.

So, how do you solve the privacy problem in an open office space? One solution is a partitioning wall. While, in principle, this solution may sound similar to the cubicle, in practice, it gives you numerous benefits without some of the most significant downsides. More importantly, they’re easy to set up since they’re either floor mounted or freestanding.

You also want to dedicate some thought to building productive communal office space. This is where the majority of spontaneous team building will occur. With the right layout, it will be more effective.

Another challenge lies in allocating enough space to each individual. Without cubicles, it will be tempting to try and move every desk a couple of inches closer to the next one and create more space. This is a huge mistake.

According to some estimates, every employee should have at least 60-110 square feet in an open workstation. This gives them some breathing space and prevents distractions caused by traffic (someone brushing off your chair/desk when going to the restroom). More space also gives you a greater sense of ownership of your workstation.

Great restaurant floor plan

The biggest challenge in designing a restaurant floor plan is combining functionality, aesthetics, and customer experience. Sure, you have some relatively pre-set areas like the waiting area, dining area, prep area, kitchen, storage, and bar, but you can organize them however you see fit.

The first thing to address is the balance between ambiance and seating capacity. People who love eating out don’t want to be completely isolated. However, they need enough breathing space and enough distance so the person at the adjacent table can’t hear them when talking at a regular volume. This also helps your staff move around the room without causing any interference.

Perhaps the most important thing to address is the concept of a bad table. This is a place affected by the draft, the table next to the bathroom, a chair with a completely obstructed view, etc. The only way to determine this is to try sitting in every restaurant chair and being objective about the experience. Even better, you should get an outsider to do it.

The fewer bad tables there are, the better your layout. If there are some, helping your staff identify them and work a bit harder around the guests sitting there can help them be more effective. Just like CRM and email marketing can attract and retain users for an online business, great restaurant floor can help you obtain regular customers.

Everything is a part of the layout, even your staff’s uniforms and tableware. In the hospitality industry, you’re never just designing a workplace – you’re crafting an experience. Attention to detail is crucial.

In the end, you need to think about your brand. If you go to McDonald’s anywhere in the world, you’ll encounter a similar layout. This evokes the sense of brand just as strongly as their logo and menu. Most importantly, this will also help your employees feel like team members, drastically affecting their productivity.

Optimal artistic work environment

Some enterprises revolve around art and creativity. For instance, you may run an architectural or fashion design agency. Sure, some go with classical office space (like the one we’ve already discussed), but this is not the optimal way to do things.

The first thing creatives need is natural light. Even in a conventional office, regulations usually insist that natural light be visible from every office corner. For an artistic work environment, you need to one-up this. At the same time, the orientation of workstations should be such that the light doesn’t directly hit their screens and make their job harder.

Artists have peculiar working habits. While putting them at their workstation may seem the most productive, you must give them the flexibility to make themselves comfortable. Outfitting rooftop space or a balcony for work (at least adding some lazy bags) can make a difference.

Visual stimuli make a huge difference. For instance, according to the discipline known as color psychology, yellow inspires creativity.

Lastly, artists work best in the mess of their own making. This is not to be confused with a real mess. A bit of asymmetry in the layout and a more casual workspace theme can greatly benefit them.

An efficient layout makes any workplace more hospitable

Making it easier to traverse will automatically increase productivity in the workplace; however, there’s much more to it than that. The right layout can stimulate your employees and encourage them to give it their best.

The right brand and design can enhance the development of one’s sense of brand loyalty and benefit both employees and guests/customers. Overall, the layout design is incredibly important and definitely worth exploring further.

By Srdjan Gombar

Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.

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