Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their environment, particularly in the context of designing and arranging things in a way that is comfortable and efficient for the user. This includes designing tools, equipment, and workspaces to fit the user’s needs and capabilities, as well as adapting tasks and processes to fit the user’s capabilities.
Though, the term itself exists in a bit of a gray area – the medical community uses ergonomics in a slightly different context, for example. For the purposes of this blog post, the goal of ergonomics research in office designs is to increase efficiency and comfort in the workplace. We’ll walk you through the effects of lighting, acoustics, and layout flexibility on the human working experience.
Ergonomics Principles as Applied in Office Space Design
Influential factors on the working environment, as studied by ergonomics professionals, include the following: cognitive factors, physical factors, and organizational factors.
Why does this matter? An office space addressing these three factors is one that supports those vital elements in the human working experience. The design should support employee wellness, participation, cooperation, memory, teamwork, and basic physiological functioning.
Ergonomics Principles: Lighting
Among the ergonomics subjects studied across various disciplines, lighting may be the most common. Various lighting temperatures can be utilized for different effects on mood. Workers will benefit from natural, warm lighting to elicit a sense of calm. That’s why you’ll often see warmer lights installed in breakrooms or casual, shared spaces.
Cool lights or “blue-enriched” lights, on the other hand, support mental acuity and alertness. According to a UNC article, these colors have been known to lower melatonin, which is created in our glands and puts us to sleep. It should also be noted that, while harsh lights can have negative effects if improperly installed, workers under this lighting report feeling happier.
To put the principles simply, workspaces meant to elicit greater productivity levels should have a bluer tone, meant to keep employees alert. But your office layout should also be designed with comfortable lighting to provide balance and relaxation when necessary.
Ergonomics Principles: Acoustics
Sound can have a big impact on the working environment and can affect both productivity and the overall quality of the work experience. There’s the distraction factor, which is the most common complaint related to open office layouts (and workspaces in general).
There’s also a matter of privacy and ideation. Employees should be able to effectively work together in production-oriented spaces where their ideas can be voiced without fear of judgement or the chaos of other departments speaking over them.
Studies regularly show reduced cognitive performance due to poorly addressed acoustics in office layout designs. If your office space is experiencing negative acoustic effects, it may be time to consider an update for optimal productivity.
Ergonomics Principles: Technological Accessibility
Tech accessibility has recently become a common topic in the modern workplace conversation, and in more than one capacity. Employers are looking for ways to incorporate remote workers into the in-office setting, and so office designs include technological installations to support that dynamic. For an effective and organized workplace, a worker in California should be easily accessed by those in the office in New York.
Ergonomics Principles: Supportive Layouts
Finally, the physical factor addressed by ergonomics professionals can be best supported in the office design by implementing a layout that supports your organization’s basic cooperative needs. Similar to technological accessibility, the right office layout will complement workers in various changing circumstances.
They’ll need a space that supports brainstorming and collective ideation, and they’ll need a space for private, productive work. These spaces should also serve to support their basic needs. Never forget the effects of simple matters – comfortable furniture, visually appealing colors, and access to breakrooms.
Applying the Elements of Office Space Design for a Better Workplace
At PureAlchemy, our office designs incorporate the elements of design that most influence your employees’ well-being. We bring empty or dated offices into the 21st century and help businesses make the most of their layouts, creating a productive, supportive environment for all involved.
Connect with us online to schedule a consultation.