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Employee productivity is very important for the success of the company in today’s global competitive environment. Organizations now realized that key asset is the human capital. Employees get stress in the working environment and this slows down their productivity. There are different factors like poor air quality, open space, noise pollution, temperature, lighting, interior together effect the productivity of employees. The objective of the repot is to increase the productivity in the workplace with a particular focus on the design and interior of the office. The design of the office gives solution to all the elements which contribute in the slow productivity of employees. Environmentally responsible material and furnishings were selected to protect the health and well-being of both employees and global ecosystems.
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This is the era of globalization. The business environment in America is growing by giving tough competition to each other in all aspects (Marilyn, 2001). To stay in the market and deal with these changing trends, the organization or firms are focusing on internal operations like productivity, team work, and resources. They now realized that their key asset is human capital. Around 50% of North Americans work in offices, and a large percentage of these work in open-plan offices. Because people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, and much of it in their workplaces, the physical environment in offices should be carefully designed and managed. The physical conditions that tenant experience are important determinants of satisfaction, comfort, well-being, and effectiveness. Changes in modern business practices have considerably changed the way we work in the office (Kate Charles etal). When doing modern knowledge work, employees are required to analyze and integrate complex information, create new ideas, learn new skills continuously, and work in collaboration with colleagues. According to Marilyn (2001) the employees recognized their power and are now searching for new ways of giving their maximum productivity. Companies have come to realize the importance of comfort in the workplace environment in order to retain quality personnel, increase productivity, and maintain a competitive edge (Luparello, 2004). It is very important to increase comfort level of employees in order to increase profit for organization, firm and corporations. Another study was done by Ernesto (1997) in which he analyzed that on an individual level, most people experience some degree of stress in their daily lives and in their workplaces. To deal with this growing problem of work-related stress, employers must identify the specific sources of stress and take clear measures to address them (Allie, 1996).
Good workplace design can make a big difference in staff satisfaction, attraction, motivation, and retention. It can also affect the level of knowledge and skills of workers, how innovative and creating they are, and how they respond to business and technological change. Poor workplace design, by contrast, is linked to lower business performance and higher level of stress experienced by employees (Amble, 2005). Vangen (1999) notes that the design of the workplace may be a significant driver in reducing employee stress. Consequently, by addressing such issues as poor acoustics, poor lighting, and poor indoor air quality, employers can go a long way towards reducing workplace stress. Karen (2004) during his research noticed that companies will look toward designs that will provide, open, technologically advanced, flexible, comfortable, and secure spaces-all the necessary components to attract and retain high caliber employees and maximize productivity. Welch (1996) focused on stress reduction issues. There are numerous, well-studied strategies that employers can apply, including anti-stress seating zones, ergonomic furniture, physical fitness centers (DiNubile & Sherman, 1999). Knisley (2005) gave the idea that lighting level must be separated for individual workstation so they can perform better. However, it is important to note that this area of study is still in its relative infancy, and there is much research to be done on the subject (Beehr, 1998). An office building must have flexible and technologically advance working environment that are safe, healthy, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and accessible. It must be able to accommodate the specific space and equipment needs of the tenant. Special attention should be made to the selection of interior of the office. Karen (2004) during his research noticed that companies will look toward designs that will provide, open, technologically advanced, flexible, comfortable, and secure spaces-all the necessary components to attract and retain high caliber employees and maximize productivity.
Aims and Objectives
The core objective of this repot is:
To increase the productivity in the workplace with a particular focus on the office design.
To explore interior design techniques that may reduce employee stress and enhance productivity while using environmentally responsible materials and furnishings
It is very important to understand the work place environment where workers are exposed to stress. Therefore, all the workers involved in the business are the major constituent of an organization. As the time passes workers gain experience and became more important tool of the organization. It is evident from different researches done in past that poor working environment is one of the cause of stress. It is very important to give them healthy work environment so they remain more useful for longer period. Office design has a direct correlation with high efficiency of workers. According to a report by the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder (Training, 1997), employees could do a much better job if employers paid attention to the work environment.
Factors increasing workers productivity
The following factors will reveal the way in which the physical, technological, and logical systems work together to promote work process and increase employee productivity while decreasing their stress:
Open space and productivity
Nowadays, there is a blurring of the hierarchy in the organization, and people are working in a more collaborative environment. Evidence abounds that a more open environment can facilitate team members’ contributions to productivity. Work spaces are designed to increase informal interaction, not just to save cost and space (Wah, 1998). One of the ways to enhance an open environment and increase interaction between employees is by using the cubicle, which was introduced in the 1970s. However, one problem with using a cubicle is that employees may feel some level of stress due to lack of privacy (Bencivenga, 1998). At the same time, the need for occasional privacy can be accommodated in a variety of ways: separate telephone rooms, conference rooms, and glass walls that can be shaded if necessary (Asirvatham, 1999).
Indoor air quality
In practical terms, poor air quality can make it harder to concentrate and work effectively leading to symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness or eye, nose or throat irritation. The indoor air quality is determined, to a large extent, by the building’s ventilation system. Researchers have recorded that approximately one third of all employee sick leaves are due to symptoms caused by poor air quality (Mendell et al, 1999). A single source of contamination, in the form of a contaminated carpet, was found to have a marked impact on the typing speed and error rate of occupants in an office building (Wargocki et al, 2002). Evidence indicates that, while the physical attributes of the workplace such as air quality and lighting can have an impact on the productivity of occupiers, it has been known for some time that what might be termed the psychosocial aspects of the working environment can also be significant contributors (or inhibitors) towards greater productivity. These aspects may relate to the ability to interact with colleagues, the degree of social equity and community in the workplace and the provision of a stimulating visual environment. Access to windows and view, opportunities for interaction and control of one’s immediate environment are some of the factors that contribute to improved workplace satisfaction. A substantial portion of the US population suffers from communicable respiratory illness, allergy, asthma symptoms, and symptoms of sick building syndrome. There is evidence that changes in the building design, operation, and maintenance can significantly reduce these illnesses. A decrease in these health problems would lead to lower health costs: a reduction in sick leave, and shorter periods of illness, which might increase work productivity. These benefits can be economically translated into billions of dollars (Fisk, 2000).
Daylight provides important benefits to workers, including better visual acuity, a connection to nature, and enhanced productivity (Means, 2002). According to the Steelcase Workplace Index survey (released Dec. 1, 1999), 56% of the office workers responding said that poor lighting in the workplace caused them tired or watery eyes, while another 30% said it caused headaches Therefore, daylight was used throughout the office to promote productivity. In addition, a combination of indirect and direct electrical lighting was used to provide an even, glare-free ambiance, while task lighting was added to increase light levels for specific tasks (Steffy, 2002). Slater (1984) found that task lighting had the greatest impact on performance compared with down lighting and side lighting. The design of office environments must place emphasis on providing each occupant with access to natural light and views to the outside. Knisley (2005) found that in today’s dynamic workplace, employees are shifting among a variety of tasks during a typical day. A high light level is needed for reading documents with small text, a medium light is more appropriate for meetings, and an even lower level is required for keyboard tasks on a computer. In addition, each employee’s personal light requirements may differ based on age, vision, or preference. The open office area would have pendant ambient lighting that would provide primarily indirect lighting but also some direct lighting to create an even, glare-free environment. In addition, task lighting will be added to each desk as needed. Lighting in conference rooms would be manually dimmable to provide light adjustment that supports different activities. Accent lighting will be installed to emphasize certain decorative features on the walls. In addition, daylight sensors would be installed to control electrical lighting level based on daylight contribution and thereby maximize efficiency. The following discusses some specific solutions for the lighting: In addition, a study conducted by the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment and the British Council for Offices found that even simple things such as good lighting and adequate daylight can reduce absenteeism by 15 per cent and increase productivity by between 2.8 per cent and 20 per cent (Amble, 2005). Windows have also been found to play an important role in employee stress. There is a relationship between lack of windows in the workplace and employees’ feelings of job dissatisfaction, depression, and tension. A view of natural elements such as trees, vegetation, plants, and foliage was found to buffer the negative impact of job stress (Leather & Di Beals, 1998).
Control noise levels.
Cooper, Dewe, and O’Driscoll (2001) suggest that poor noise conditions can have a severe impact on a worker’s physical health and psychological well-being.Unpredictable noise has been found to increase arousal levels but such noises also require more attention and cause distraction. Telephones ringing, doors banging, mobile phones ringing and coworkers shouting across the room could all be termed unpredictable noise, unless they occur with such frequency as to become the norm.
Technology has become an indispensable tool for business and industry. Given that technology is driving a variety of changes in the organizational and architectural forms of office buildings. The design made must include easy access to this technology.
It should not be too surprising to learn that performance levels of workers, whether in the office or factory environment, drop off when it gets too hot or too cold – yet that is the finding of many research projects conducted over extended periods of time. In other words, there is an optimum temperature or band of temperatures to maximize performance. This is true particularly when considering the effects of temperature on physical performance although the link is less evident when considering effects on mental performance. To put it another way, the band of temperature that secures optimum mental performance is wider. Despite this finding, building management systems are typically operated to achieve a narrow spread of ‘acceptable’ temperatures in the office environment. Wyon (1974) found that typewriting speeds were approximately 40-50% slower when temperatures rose from 200C to 240C. In a later study, Wyon et al (1979) concluded that certain office-based tasks can be improved by temperatures up to 260C. Interestingly, when other tests were performed (assessing creativity, spelling, vocabulary and manual dexterity), the researchers found no material difference in performance as the temperature levels changed within a broad range. What the above research shows, if anything, is that the ‘ideal’ temperature for a specific office-based activity may not be ‘ideal’ for another activity – or, occupiers are more resilient than is imagined and can cope adequately with a range of temperatures
The vast majority of health research has focused on Building Related Illnesses (BRI) and the relationship to indoor air quality and the thermal environment. Occurrences of Building Related Illness can be very costly to an organization, especially when symptoms are associated with reduced work performance, absenteeism, or temporary abandonment of the building. Not surprisingly, one of the driving forces behind the sustainable design movement is the improvement of indoor air quality
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Use mobile furniture
Adjustable and mobile furniture is a good option for growing businesses with limited space; you can easily reconfigure cubicles and workstations and rearrange your office to accommodate growth, partition departments, or separate equipment areas and other noisy parts of the office. Mobile furniture was selected to provide flexibility in accommodating team meetings and gatherings of different sizes and to adjust more easily to future changes (Sterk, 2005). The furniture should be extremely durable to avoid early replacement
Relaxation, and exercise rooms
An important component of stress management programs is relaxation centers that are analogous to fitness centers (Ernesto, 1997). The purpose of these facilities is to provide employees with an area, equipment, and qualified staff to encourage learning and practicing stress management and relaxation techniques. Special relaxation rooms are also mentioned by Stevens (2001). These rooms are totally enclosed and soundproof Therefore, the design strategy included support spaces such as meditation, exercise, and relaxation rooms. These rooms would provide employees with comfortable, stress-free venues to enhance creativity and productivity. The meditation room would have a view to the outside landscaping as suggested by Leather & Di Beals (1998), who found that a view of natural elements such as trees, plants, and foliage could buffer the negative impact of job stress. Both the meditation and relaxation rooms would also be insulated and soundproof to limit noise distractions.
Based on the research cited in this study, it is clear that the stress levels, health, and productivity of people in their workplace can be greatly influenced by the environment and physical work space they occupy on a daily basis. It is important to continue to educate the business community regarding the direct benefits of providing an improved work environment. Good working environments can help employers recruit and retain well-qualified employees, and any improvements in the well-being of employees are in the best interests of the employers themselves. Before embarking on a design project, the designers must review the literature to identify the design theories and research that will guide design decisions (i.e. researchbased design). In this project there were two areas of interest: 1). reducing stress among employees and 2). Creating greater productivity for the company. Of equal importance is the need to educate the community about the benefits of using environmentally responsible furnishing and finishing materials, which are now widely available. Increased use of these materials not only benefits the individuals in the workplace, it contributes to protection of global ecosystems. The research that supports this study suggests that a company that provides a well-designed work environment not only enhances the wellbeing of its employees but also increases productivity and may ultimately reduce its healthcare costs. Furthermore, it will set an example in the community as an environmentally responsible employer and member of that community.
An outcome of the research includes a series of recommendations targeted the designs of work place.
Hire professional designers or engineers to ensure compliance with safety standards and codes.
Provide designs in accordance with good practice as well as applicable building, fire, health codes and regulations.
Conduct preliminary hazard analysis and design reviews to eliminate or mitigate hazards in work place.
Provide engineering controls in place rather than rely on personal protective equipment or administrative work procedures to prevent mishaps.
To reduce auditory distractions, put fax machines, copiers and other noisy office equipment in a separate area surrounded by cubicle walls
Try to keep noisier employees, such as customer service representatives or salespeople who spend a lot of time on the phone, away from those who require quiet work spaces.
Consider using panel systems, carpeting and ceiling tiles to absorb sound and provide privacy.
During the planning stage, identify all necessary technological systems (e.g., voice/cable/data systems such as audio/visual systems, speaker systems, Internet access,
Consider and accommodate for wireless technologies
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