When I think of stunning interiors, the first name that springs to my mind is creative-wizard Phillipe Starck.

As a teen, I fell in love with his art nouveau furniture with a contemporary twist. I’d spend hours looking through websites and magazines thinking about how I could incorporate them into my home (and work space) one day.

What I loved most was that, besides just being functional, these pieces were designed to inspire and ignite creativity. He took traditional shapes and sizes that people are familiar with and contrasted the material with something completely different—how could you not feel inspired to create when surrounded by such thoughtful design?

Your working environment has a direct impact on your morale and productivity. When we feel inspired by a space, we’re happier, more productive, and more creative. And this isn’t just feel-good fluff either—it’s vital for business goals.  We live in an experience economy. As more aspects of our lives are replaced or disrupted by digital technology, the power of the physical experience is stronger than ever.

It’s no longer enough to just have an office and a desk and expect top performance from employees. If you want top talent, you’d better offer a great workplace experience.

 

Airbnb’s HQ

 

Think about your own work space—what are the immediate words that come to mind? Many would say bare, clinical, grey, and enclosed. That’s no way to spend your Monday through Friday.

I dare you to walk into your office and look around the space—but not the furniture, or the view, or anything like that. Look at the faces of the employees and write down some emotions their faces convey. Do you see concentration, contentment, and energy? Or are they tired, distracted, and drained?

Changing a work environment can feel like a big undertaking. Maybe you don’t have the budget for designer furniture and premium amenities, but there are simple, science-backed changes you can make in the office to increase happiness and productivity.

 

Add Some Green

Having plants in the office will give a number of benefits to the work place: they reduce stress and illness, create cleaner air to breathe, and increase productivity and creativity. In fact, a study in 2010 shows having plants in the office resulted in a reduction in a number of employee woes:

 

  • Tension/Anxiety – 37% reduction
  • Depression/Dejection – 58% reduction
  • Anger/Hostility – 44% reduction
  • Fatigue – 38% reduction

 

Plants in the office reduce stress

Stress reducing greenery at Convene’s HQ

 

Adding some green to your office environment is as simple as choosing a plant species that thrives indoors and setting a calendar to give it the water it needs.

 

Mix Up Your Spaces 

Have you ever found yourself stuck on a problem for hours, only to magically think of the solution after taking a short walk? Writers and philosophers have known the power of movement to spur creativity for centuries. Part of that power comes from the physical activity, but another part comes from the change in environment and stimuli around us.

 

Google’s office offers multiple seating types to mix up your work space.

 

You can incorporate this into your office by offering a variety of productive work spaces for employees to utilize. Companies like Google, Facebook, and Airbnb have become famous for their offices featuring lounges, hammocks, and other unusual places to work. Although occasionally excessive, what these spaces are doing is giving employees a way to move and change up their surroundings. Small changes like creating different seating areas will encourage employees to stand up and move around, improving blood flow and cognitive function. Place comfortable chairs at friendly angles to encourage more important conversations and the building of relationships between employees and clients alike.

 

Adjust the Temperature, Air Quality, and Lighting

Designing the optimal work environment isn’t just about the things we can see—it also includes the air and light that surrounds us all day. Temperature, air quality, and lighting in the office affect concentration and productivity.

While personal preferences can vary widely, there is some scientific evidence that suggests productivity maximizes around 71-72 degrees Fahrenheit (not to mention, keeping an office too cold or too warm wastes valuable energy). Small devices like air purifiers and fans can make for a cleaner work space, while reducing employee illness or allergy symptoms.

The right lighting can transform a space from stressful to sublime. While fluorescent lighting is more energy efficient than traditional bulbs, it can also be an environmental stressor. Accent lighting will create a space that does not feel too clinical and will give a home-away-from-home feel, while also being gentle on your eyes and sleep rhythms.

 

Lighting at Convene at 237 Park Avenue

 

Small Touches Make a Big Difference

Office redesigns can be a bit overwhelming—where do you even begin? The important thing to remember is to not get lost in the endless options available. A few small touches can make all the difference. Some fresh lighting, a few potted plants, or some comfy chairs can have a profound effect. Don’t be afraid to add touches like rugs, props, and artwork, either. These can be noninvasive and act to compliment the designed space.

The best and most productive work space is one in which the employee feels confident and comfortable. Just like you can get lost in a great book or the feeling of putting on your best clothing for an evening out—a great work space can foster feelings of creativity and comfort, and success will follow.