It’s no secret that our immediate surroundings tremendously impact on how we feel.  Colors, materials, fabrics and lighting play a big part in creating an atmosphere or “mood” — something that we all are accustomed to in resorts, restaurants and stores.

But what about setting the right atmosphere the office? Most people spend more than 50 percent of their lives in an indoor setting, and most employers realize the link between interior design and worker productivity.

For small and mid-size businesses that have limited resources to dedicate to interior design, it’s sometimes hard to differentiate the hype over real needs. Out of the numerous studies conducted on this topic, experts agree that the productivity of the work is affected by four main components: temperature, air quality, light and noise levels in the office.

And that’s why we decided to dedicate this article to highlighting the top three biggest myths about the impact of interior design on productivity.

Open Floorplan

While open floorplans are a great way to foster collaboration between employees, they do not work for every business. Many employees become distracted by the noise and the constant movement around them and are unable to focus. So before you tear out the cubicle walls, think about your employees and their needs.

There are innovative, beautiful privacy screen options that may be a better fit for your office over open desks. These movable screens allow for the flexibility of various activities allowing for options of collaborative or private spaces.

Natural Light

While there is no substitute for natural sunshine, some interior office environments are not possible to structurally change. The good news is that by creating a well-lit workplace with lighting that mimics the natural sunshine, worker productivity remains the same.

If it’s impossible to create skylights, try the innovative lighting options, such as light box walls.  The impact of color palette and texture should not be underestimated to improve an interior space and capture a pleasant atmosphere.

Place to Play

A look at Google’s offices made every business owner envious of Google’s tremendous resources. The most admired rooms were the common lounge areas designed for resting and playing.

But before you convert your conference room to a “creative think-tank” with ping pong tables and foosball or a climbing wall, consider again your employees, their needs and your business style. Often these costly features have gone less used than the financial investment justified.

What’s truly important is providing your team with a place that is conducive to their work.  Inspiring? Yes. Stimulating? Yes! Creative? Yes! But most of all, a place that efficiently supports functional requirements for the work task is required.

When designing your office, a survey of your work force will provide great insight to the perceptions and needs of your staff.  An interior designer or architect can provide a comprehensive questionnaire and interview process to skillfully uncover the true needs within your company so intelligent programming can be established leading to goal-based solutions. Control over their workspace for privacy, temperature and lighting typically lead the list of employee requests. Often these requests can be more easily accommodated than management expects.

There is no doubt that where we spend a majority of our time greatly impacts our overall well being and thus productivity. In fact, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID, 1999) carried out an independent study and revealed that the physical workplace design is one of the top three factors, which affects performance and job satisfaction. The study results showed that 31 percent of people were satisfied with their jobs and had pleasing workplace environments. Fifty percent of people were seeking jobs and said that they would prefer a job in a company where the physical environment is good.

While an indoor sports court and climbing wall can be wonderful luxuries, simpler solutions also exist to make a work environment pleasant and efficient and keep a team happy.

For more information about creating a productive workplace environment, visit the interior design studio, IMI Design, online.