What Does your Workspace Do for You?

April 23, 2018 Author: Noelle Menendez

Think about your organization’s goals. Now think about the key steps to achieve them. What comes to mind? If optimizing your work environment is not on your list, it should be. It might surprise you to know that a key driver of organizational innovation is an optimal workplace design.2 Take a moment to be mindful about how your company’s workspace makes you feel and consider how the physical, cultural, and technological workspaces are designated. In an organization, when there are technological or cultural failures, the impact is visible through unmet company standards. However, the way a business’s physical layout effects the organization often goes without any acknowledgement of the consequences to the overall, organization-wide goals. Ultimately within your business, you want your work environment to beget optimal performances by maximizing productivity.

According to Gensler’s 2016 Workplace Survey, innovative companies have common denominators regarding how they design their workspace and create collaborative environments.2 These high performing teams provide ingenious spaces for work, emphasizing both focus and collaboration, in addition to promoting employee autonomy with flexible locations and schedules that best accommodate their tasks. When reviewing their recommendations, consider how you would adjust them to fit the specific needs and goals of your company. Below are four key work space focus-areas identified in Gensler’s Workplace Index:1

1. Focus/Concentration

A standard cubicle or desk designates individual space that fosters individual focus. Consider elements of sound control or office rules so that the surroundings match the intent of the workspace. For a shared office space some example rules could include stepping out to take personal calls or moving lengthy one-on-one conversations with co-workers to conference rooms. Additionally, consider varying individual works spaces with flexible desk heights and work areas to encourage movement, standing, and scenery changes. Other focus-centric ideas include noise cancelling headphones, sound absorbing panels, or even an agreed upon universal music playlist.

2. Collaboration

Thinking beyond the desk - a conference room is a great way to foster collaboration by creating a spacious environment that fits many comfortably while avoiding disruption. As an example, the company SAP embraces this concept by having a collaborative innovation hub, smaller meeting rooms, and areas specifically for presentations.1

3. Learning

Technology can play a huge role in the learning process as well as one-on-one mentorship and training. Give some thought to task-specific work stations for organizational purposes and increasing production flow.3

4. Socialization

Meaningful play doesn’t have to be a ping-pong table or game room, but consider a space where colleagues can take a mental break, build connections, and get the communication channels flowing.4 This space could be a break room, patio, or coffee stand. Remember that the well-being of your employees plays a critical role in their performance—comfort is important!

With the four focus-areas in mind, take the initiative to create a workplace environment analysis. Ask your team what they value and care about when it comes to the work that they do and make strategic investments in those areas. With designated workspace areas, one individual can deliberately choose the best setting for that particular task. It’s like having a home field advantage. Infusing variety into the work place stimulates employee interest, the learning process, and maximizes attention when needed. Within business, it’s important to upgrade, make changes, and evolve. When you do so, ensure you do not neglect your workspace as it would also neglect productivity and performance.

If you’re interested in the impact your workspace has on performance and how to make it more effective, feel free to reach out to HigherEchelon for more specific ideas.


  1. “How The Physical Workspace Impacts the Employee Experience”: available LinkedIn, Jacob Morgan, December 3, 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2015/12/03/how-the-physical-workspace-impacts-the-employee-experience/#d8f36ea779ea
  2. “The Gensler 2016 Workplace Survey Reveals Workplace Secrets of the Most Creative and Innovative Companies”: available Gensler , Meredith Bucaro, July 12, 2016, https://www.gensler.com/news/press-releases/us-workplace-survey-2016-findings
  3. “5 Elements of a Highly Productive Office”: available Forbes, Newtek, February 22, 2013, https://www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2013/02/22/5-elements-of-a-highly-productive-office/#4da0f125a9e4
  4. “Rethink Your Office Design: Designing a More Effective Workspace”: available Entrepreneur, Stephanie Vozza, March 11, 2013, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226034