Office Furniture: The Overlooked Tool to Improve Employee Performance

Coworking-Space-Open-Office.jpgEvery once in a while, there will come along a solution that seems too easy. In a field awash with Likert scales, causation equations, OKRs, KPIs, and everything in between, it’s always nice to have some of those easy ideas in your back pocket.

Office furniture—what your employees are sitting on, looking at, and walking through—could have more on an impact on employee performance than you think.

Poor workstations can negatively affect employee health, mood, focus, and productivity. In fact, a recent UK study found that poor workstations cost £7.2 billion in sick pay (about $9 billion) every year.


While far from a cure-all for your performance needs, the following workstation changes can help improve employee performance.


Choose Natural Lighting

Artificial lighting can be detrimental in two ways: it can either be too dim or too harsh. Because the eyes are required to work much harder than usual, dim lighting can cause eye strain, headaches, drowsiness, and lack of focus. Harsh lighting, though opposite of dim lighting, can have many of the same effects.

The solution? Natural lighting.

Not only does natural lighting make it easier to see, it has also been shown to improve happiness, health, and job satisfaction, all resulting in increased employee performance. If true natural lighting (windows) is an impossibility, consider lamps or bulbs that simulate natural light.


Get a Better Chair

The average employee spends 1,420 hours – or 59 days – of the year sitting in an office chair. Ergonomic chairs are essential to the improvement of employee performance because they relieve awkward posture, muscle fatigue, stress, and un-comfortability. Or, cut down the hours your employees spend sitting. Invest in sit-or-stand adjustable desks to give employees the freedom, flexibility, and comfort of sitting or standing while they work.  


Make Them Move

The placement of your coffee pot and water cooler are essential to a better performing office. Think: what are the routes my employees take every day? Bathroom, coffee pot, and water cooler are the big three. These serve as a way to get employees out of their routine and into more chance encounters. Chance encounters increase organizational familiarity and grease the wheels for creative solution conversations. Additionally, encouraging movement at work can aid in a healthier lifestyle.


Pay Attention to Walls

As boring as they may seem, the placement of desks in relation to walls can have a huge impact on productivity. The ideal arrangement: a wall is behind the employee, for a sense of privacy. No blank wall within eight feet of the desk means the employee has a place to rest his or her eyes. An employee should see at least two people but no more than four, with ready access to a conversation partner. Additionally, 50-75 percent of an employee’s work zone should be enclosed by walls or windows to aid in focus.


Invest in Multifunction Furniture

Giving employees multiple and movable work spaces allows them to tailor the environment to the given task. An employee may want a community space while brainstorming, but she might prefer a quieter booth for strategic thinking. Agile furniture and spaces puts power, control, and choice into the hands of employees.



Changing your office furniture is a great place to start to improve employee performance, but you can do a lot better. Subscribe to our blog below for continual stream of performance advice!

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