Five Ways to Create a More Productive Workplace

By Malini Fuangvuthi SPP LEED AP and Heather Van Ravenswaay RID

As organizations of all sizes strive to create greater productivity within their workplaces, many will inevitably turn to some of the obvious fixes—a shift in workloads, modification of staff levels and across-the-board cuts in overhead, just to name a few. Clearly, some of those steps may prove beneficial, if not downright necessary. However, organizations may be surprised to learn of some other approaches that can go a long way toward helping achieve greater productivity through increased collaboration, idea sharing, and a speed to decision making.  Here are five ways an organization can modify its workplace to create a more productive environment. 

1. Create Spaces That Get People Talking
Think about spaces within the workplace that can be modified so people can mingle in them and share ideas openly and casually. Lounge-seating arrangements, open meeting concepts and more gracious, destination-like coffee bars are ideal for sharing ideas, information and impromptu advice. In most instances, such spaces can serve multiple functions to make it an easy and cost-effective change.

2. Shift The Focus Towards More “We” And Less “Me”
Many organizations are shifting the way they define their workspace.  In the past, one may have thought of their workspace as their own dedicated private office, but more organizations are maximizing their shared amenities and collaboration spaces and encouraging employees to consider these spaces as part of their workspace.  Reducing the size of the “me” space, such as an individual’s workspace, allows that excess square footage to be allocated for the “we” space in public, collaborative spaces. While executives at one time may have balked at the idea of reducing the size of their offices, today’s leadership are quickly realizing the value of this shift in thinking.   

3.  Maintain Flexibility Within Space
Whether your firm is growing or contracting, it is important to plan for uncertain futures by maintaining a degree of flexibility within your workplace.  By strategically approaching the office environment as a platform for modulation, an organization can continue to change over time and adapt to market conditions. 

4. Support The Work Being Done
When allocating space to employees, think about the nature of the work being done and assign physical space to individuals based on their work processes, rather than by hierarchy and title.  Empower employees to work most effectively by providing them with the right tools and technology to do their work.

5.  Encourage Variety and Choice
An employee’s work environment plays a crucial role in productivity and efficiency.  Consider encouraging employees to work in different ways by providing spaces which support a variety of work and work styles.  Keep in mind that leadership typically sets the tone for how employees choose to work.  If a behavior change is desired, the fastest way to ensure adoption and innovation is for employees to see leadership taking the first steps.   

Malini Fuangvuthi

Malini Fuangvuthi is a Strategic Planner with PDR since 2006.  She advises organizations on how to most effectively approach their workplace portfolio in order to maximize its value by strategically leveraging opportunities and minimizing limitations.  


Heather Van Ravenswaay

Heather Van Ravenswaay is an Interior Designer with PDR since 2004. She is passionate about helping organizations understand how to use the workplace as the strategy tool.  Allowing the businesses largest asset, their people, to be more productive and, therefore, making the business more successful.