The Workplace Design Element That Can Drive or Hinder Productivity

sodexo workplace acoustics productivity

Sodexo and Quora Consulting partnered to understand what knowledge workers need from their workplace in order to maximize productivity.

The report, “Creating a Workplace That Maximises Productivity”, claims that only a third of respondents found the workplace to be configured in such a way that it optimises productivity. According to the report, “This suggests that unfortunately workplace designers are placing cosmetic design and style over substance.”

This article is part of our ‘workplace design’ series

A long way to go to put the user at the heart of our solution design

Sodexo’s study found that “over two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents stated that their workplace design directly affected their effectiveness.”

In order to better cater to their members, workspace operators need to understand what workers expect from their workplace environment. In the case of knowledge workers, Sodexo’s study found the following:

    • Meaningful environments
    • Measure of ‘happiness’
    • Inspiring, creative, and innovative work settings
    • Greater choice and variety of workplace configurations

It’s no wonder then, that the study cites coworking environments as a solution to many of today’s workplace environment problems. According to the report, coworking spaces make it easier to accommodate choice of work setting. Furthermore,  “coworking environments enable ideas to take off and you can completely reinvent what it means to go to work as you become part of a community.”

Coworking operators understand the way modern work works. They have been able to balance the physical environment, people, and technology to create spaces that maximise productivity and help companies and individuals reduce costs.

Yet, it’s not all good news for coworking and shared workspaces. While they are better equipped to provide what the modern worker expects from his or her workplace environment, there is still room to improve.

“In order to cut through the preconceived wisdoms about which workplace design factors have the greatest and least impact on productivity, we asked our respondents to rate a wide spectrum of factors that impact their productivity. From the range of responses, half (51 per cent) reported that reducing unnecessary office noise was the most important factor for improving their productivity.”

This isn’t news to most operators, as this has been an ongoing battle and struggle for many. Workplace acoustics in shared and open spaces have been a topic for debate over several years, with no clear answer to the problem. The issue with design is that there is no one size fits all approach.

“All organisational cultures are different, and therefore all workplace design initiatives should be treated as unique projects with unique stakeholders that are built on facts and insight, rather than just relying on generalised preferences that may not be wholly applicable,” the report reads.  Nonetheless, noise seems to be a common issue that affects most workspace operators and its users, therefore making acoustics a critical design element that operators should focus on.

Workplace acoustics: what to do?

The report states that sound travels via three paths: 1) direct straight-line path between the source and receiver; 2) reflected path as the sound bounces off various surfaces; 3) defracted sound being over the top and around the sides of partitions.

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“Creating a quiet environment requires dealing with the paths that sound takes between the sources. People and equipment are sound sources.” Here are some tips to help address workplace acoustics and enhance the environment.

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