Suzanne Lucas

The Feng Shui of Office Designs

Office designs are often the last thing on a manager’s mind. You want the best people doing the best job, but does wall color or cubical height matter? Can’t you just stick the new guy in the corner? It may be easier to just move into whatever space you’ve rented, but instead, you should stop and think. Your office design may have a big impact on your employees.

Lighting

How you light your office can impact how you and your employees work. Marketing consultant, Andrew Jensen, advised companies to use as much natural light as possible. Employees who work in natural light are happier and more productive, in addition to having fewer absences.

Layout

There’s no optimal office layout. It depends on what you do. Does this person work independently, while others need to constantly collaborate? Is someone always on the phone with clients, and therefore needs to be someplace where the phone conversations don’t bother others? Consider functionality first. Function should come above all else. Avoid layouts where people are placed by hierarchy rather than actual business need. That senior vice president might be more productive sitting with her team rather than in an office on the other side of the building.

Color

Color can make an impact on happiness. Bland colors — gray, beige or white — can lead women to depression, according to a report from the University of Texas. Men have the same response to purple and orange. Low-wavelength colors improve efficiency and focus, so try blues and greens. However, try yellow if your business focuses on creativity.

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Existing Space

Few companies have budgets for complete makeovers and knocking out walls to bring in more natural light, but this doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the same bad layout you have now. According to a report from Gensler, the first step is to ask your employees what they think will do best. They may surprise you with their ideas, and the result will be things that work for your office and your employees.

Second, paint is a relatively cheap way to change things, as is changing light bulbs to something that mimics natural light more closely.

If you’re noticing low productivity or high rates of depression, think about how your office designs impact employees. Some rearranging and new paint might just make all the difference to your business.

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.