How The Workplace Environment Affects Productivity

Picture Credit: Female munitions worker; BiblioArchives Canada: November 1943.

The office is an environment where most people spend the majority of their working lives. It’s therefore essential that employees feel happy, comfortable and motivated in this space to encourage maximum productivity and thus produce high quality work.


Lighting is an obvious environmental factor of productivity, yet one of the most important. Lighting that is too dim has the potential to lower productivity through causing eye strain, headaches, drowsiness and lack of focus. On the other end of the spectrum, fluorescent lighting can cause migraines. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate lighting that doesn’t strain the eyes but is bright enough for the eyes to cope with luminous screens. A balance between natural and artificial lighting can help to achieve this. Studies have shown that natural lighting in particular can have a direct effect on employee happiness and focus – both of which make for more productive workers. Therefore, it may be a good idea to move desks nearer to windows; or, if you are currently in the midst of the office design process, consider installing large windows.


Noise also affects productivity, with research suggesting that 65% of SMEs feel that music in the workplace makes employees more productive. It’s important not to forget, however, that each worker requires different environments to focus. For example, some workers may thrive off being in an environment with music whilst sitting in an open-plan office; while others may prefer working in a secluded area in silence. Catering for these varying needs is a good idea – this could be resolved by installing sound-proof booths or cornering off an area for quiet, private work space. If you’re an SME, this may prove more difficult due to lack of space. However, there are other options to consider; for example, dedicating certain times of the day to ‘quiet time’, or providing each employee with sound-proof headphones will accommodate those who need silence to focus.

Air quality

Air quality, although a less obvious factor, is also important in retaining productivity. Poor air quality can contribute to a reduction in energy levels, distractions and concentration problems. Ensuring that a breeze can enter through windows is essential, and it may be a good idea to consider installing air conditioning – particularly in smaller offices.


Additionally, many SMEs find that eventually, after growing their business, their office is not large enough to accommodate the increase in employee numbers. A cramped and unorganised office can soon lead to unhappy and unproductive workers. This may result in the need to open a new office to provide them with more space. Although this is not a simple task, it will ultimately impact the wellbeing of your workers, who will then produce a better quality of work.

Employee productivity seems to be influenced, for the most part, by our own natural senses. Satisfying each individual sense therefore makes for happier and highly productive employees.

If you have concerns regarding your employees workplace environment, please do get in touch with us via email  [email protected] or call 01386 751740.