Survey: Office Design Affects Worker Performance

July 20, 2006 ( - One architecture and design firm's survey reports that the impact of office design on companies' bottom lines in the form of worker productivity is estimated at $330 billion each year.

Gensler’s survey of about 2,000office workers looked at the link between workplace design and employee performance and found that office design could be hindering worker performance.

According to the survey, office workers said they think they would be 21% more productive if they were in a better working environment; almost half said they would work an extra hour a day if the work environment improved. The survey found more than 90% of workers said the quality of their working environment affects their mood and attitude about their work, and nearly as many (89%) think the quality of their working environment is crucial to their job satisfaction.

“Businesses are waking up to the fact that the workplace is much more than just real estate and a means to house their people,” said Diane Hoskins, an executive director at Gensler, in a news release. “They are embracing performance-focused workplace design as a strategic business initiative – as the forum that can drive employee excellence, business objectives, and ultimately, the bottom line.”

The top complaints employees have about their office spaces are that there is a lack of space, too few quiet areas, uncomfortable workstations, bad layout and design.

Design and Performance

According to the survey, nine in ten workers said they think better office design leads to better overall employee performance and makes a company more competitive. Senior executives echoed a similar feeling; they estimate that their companies would be able to perform 22% more work on average if their companies had better-designed physical working environments. However, 46% of workers do not believe creating a productive workplace is a priority at their companies and 40% say that minimizing costs is the main reason behind their workplace’s current layout.

Two-thirds of workers surveyed said they are more efficient when they work closely with co-workers; however, 30% of workers say their current workspace does not promote spontaneous interaction, collaboration or cooperation, and teamwork among colleagues and the management to which they report. Only 50% believe their current workplace design encourages innovation and creativity.

Other results from the survey include:

  • More than one-third of respondents say their current workplace design does not promote health and well being; the study reports that workers think healthy and secure working conditions are the most important factors in an efficient working environment.
  • 62% of US office workers have great respect for leaders who work in an open plan environment with their teams, rather than in private offices.
  • 42% of respondents said they would be proud to show their current workplaces to important customers or potential recruits.