How Does Your Office Environment Influence Your Behavior?

November 7, 2016


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I am continuing my series on the NYSID’s centennial conference Interior Design: The Essential Profession.

Just after lunch, Dan Ariely spoke on Design, Behavior and the Bottom Line. Interior design requires far more knowledge of behavioral psychology than you might ever want to imagine. You can watch Dan Ariely on YouTube in a TED talk or read one of his fascinating books. Suffice it to say his speech was lively and interesting, which says a lot just after lunch.

Dan posits (and I agree) that the environment helps to determine our decisions. Just look around your house today. How much Halloween candy do you have lying around? I know that I need to get my extra candy out of the house right away before I succumb to yet another Reese’s peanut butter cup. That candy is wreaking havoc on my waistline.

Not convinced? Open your refrigerator. Where do you store your fruit and vegetables? I am guessing they aren’t at eye level. They are more likely in a drawer at about waistline height, so they aren’t going to be the first thing you think about eating. Did you know that we throw out a third of what we buy? I bet a good amount of produce accounts in that third. And isn’t that appalling? We really do live in a disposable society now.

Here are just a few examples of how we can use the design of an environment to influence behavior in the office.

  • Make it easier to use the stairs and more difficult to access the elevators. That would encourage increased exercise which means better health for our employees. At the least you could place interesting photos in the staircases.
  • Provide quiet areas where employees can retreat for concentrated work. Did you know that every time a person is interrupted, he/she loses at least ten minutes of time? Imagine if you were interrupted six times in one day. You would lose an hour per day. That’s a big chunk of time.
  • Provide areas for socialization and informal gatherings to allow people to exchange ideas. Your next marketing plan could stem from a casual meeting of the minds.

rackson-accounting-photos

  • Add plants to your workspace and watch productivity rise. In a recent UK study called ‘The relative benefits of green versus lean office space: Three field experiments, the following was discovered – “those who worked in offices with natural greenery saw a 15% rise in productivity over a three month period, in comparison to those working with no greenery or natural elements within their immediate environment.”
  • In an interior office replace the fluorescent bulbs with full spectrum lighting. Flourescent light can contribute to eye strain and migraines. According to a study in the Scientific Journal, “the prime factor which affects the productivity of employees is lighting in the office” and your best bet is natural day light. One of our accounting clients had an entirely interior office space. Imagine that on the long tax season nights in March. Each employee was provided with a lightbox and the office was filled with plants.

I love what I do and enjoy nothing more than helping my clients become their best selves through the design of their office spaces. Please contact me for a Workplace Assessment.

 

 


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