Is a better office environment a key component of higher productivity?

Friday, January 24th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

This blog has featured a number of posts about ways in which project managers can encourage their employees to be more productive. For example, building an emotional connection with employees can inspire them to perform at a higher level.

But there is another factor at play that this blog has not yet covered, and that is the physical office environment. As pointed out by a recent article on the Harvard Business Review blog, employees may actually perform better at work if they are able to control the space around them.

One survey featured in the article found that open-plan designs may be uniquely suited to supporting the work habits of tech employees. Though it is generally assumed that such layouts provide too many distractions for the average worker, the survey found that most tech workers actually reported better levels of concentration. In addition, they claimed to be happier and more satisfied with their jobs.

"Choice was the key differentiator," the article reads. "Forty-one percent of the technology employee respondents reported having a say in when and where they work—which includes both in- and out-of-office mobility—compared to only 32 percent on average."

As an example, the article cited Facebook headquarters, where employees report being able to adjust the height and layout of their own desks until they are comfortable with their workspaces.

At New Leaf Project Management, our programs cite 75 years of research showing that, while inadequate office space can discourage high performance, merely assigning adequate space does little to inspire it. In addition to being able to choose their workspace, other variables, such as challenging work, are what really motivate employees. Adequate office space removes a frown, but doesn't necessarily induce a smile.

These subtle distinctions are what set our programs—such as "Leading the Project Team"—apart. You can also learn while you earn PDUs for PMP recertification with an online project management game.

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