Office as 'Home' Boosts Productivity

Sept. 15, 2009

New research from the University of Exeter and Ambius demonstrates that work productivity and morale could be improved by one-third by giving employees the freedom to develop the look and feel of their own office environment. The findings will be released in the next week, featuring psychological research developed across the span of 4 years and backed by Ambius, the global leader in bringing plants, art, and ambient scenting to the workplace. The evidence suggests that empowering employees to explore their creative side and “make their desk their home” has a marked impact on performance and well being. 

The research, developed in partnership with the University of Exeter, suggests that the prevailing preference for “lean space,” which is typified by a uniform approach to design, generally leads to a heightened sense of alienation among employees, discomfort in the workplace, and symptoms of sick building syndrome. “The study’s findings particularly resonate in these tough economic times, when companies are more reliant than ever on productive and energetic workforces,” says Jeff Mariola, divisional managing director for Ambius.

In comparison to colleagues working in a lean environment (i.e. a spartan office with cleared desks), people empowered to develop aspects of their own workspace showed average increases of 27 percent in feelings of well being and 32 percent in productivity.

“The study findings squarely challenge modern methods of space management,” says Craig Knight, the principal researcher behind these findings and managing director of Prism at the University of Exeter. “In particular, it confronts head-on the idea that employees perform more productively in a ‘lean’ space where displays of personally or socially meaningful artefacts are forbidden.”

Kenneth Freeman, international technical director at Ambius, comments: “The simple approach of involving office workers in the design of their own surroundings proves to deliver the best levels of organizational identification, citizenship, well being, and productivity.”

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