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Updated 28 Sep 2020

Why the office space is impacting on your habits and productivity

Find office space and work habits that support productivity and quality thinking.

Nicholas Haralambous, Entrepreneur, 03 October 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

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As a culture and on the whole, we have been socialised into office environments from 9am to 5pm almost every day of our lives. The clincher is, these offices are often the worst places to do our jobs, be creative, enjoy that time or even just be slightly happy.

There are some very simple contributing factors that are probably hindering your creativity and productivity, and ability to generate and execute amazing ideas.


It’s incredibly difficult to create an office environment swimming in natural light. However, a lack of natural light is probably one of the largest contributors to your lazy and lackadaisical afternoon work ethic.

In a recent study by scientist Mirjam Muench, it was discovered that people who were exposed to daylight were significantly more alert in the evenings than their artificial light counterparts.

Being exposed to dim or artificial light will make you sleepy and more stressed over a long period. Light is important for a productive and creative work environment. When you’re looking at new office space, be sure that the windows are large, the air is flowing and that the lights aren’t dim.


Counter to what many office bullies will tell you, cold environments are not going to make you more productive. We’ve all experienced that one person in an office who insists that it’s permanently boiling and that the temperature on the air conditioner needs to go down into the teens. I hate that guy.

Turns out that guy is an idiot. A Cornell study has recently shown that people make up to 44% more mistakes in a 20° office climate compared to a 25° work environment. The logic is pretty sound too; the colder you are the more energy you’re using to stay warm and the more distracted you become. Keep the temperature at a comfortable level for everyone.

Open plan

Distractions are one of the most jarring interruptions to creativity and productivity when you find yourself in the zone and hammering through your task list. But the open plan office environment promotes distraction with an intense lack of privacy.

I’m not alone in thinking this. Studies have concluded that open plan offices add to employee stress, bad co-worker relationships and general dissatisfaction.


The ‘shower moment’

Not everything happens in the office though.There are some things you can do to create those rare but intense moments of clarity. The first and most obvious is to get out of the office.

Whether you work from home, an open plan or traditional office you need  to get out and feel the sun (or rain) on your face.

Steve Jobs was notorious for his walking meetings. I scoffed at them when I read his biography, but then I came across a terrible CEO who did one thing that really did work.

He walked through Stellenbosch when he had important meetings. He was terrible elsewhere in the business but his meetings really did leave me feeling engaged and energised.

Offices that assist you in breaking out of the norm and stepping away from your desk will inevitably help you create better ideas and become more productive.

'Shower moment’ activities

Take a walk around the block. Have meetings out in the open (even at a coffee shop outside). Run or do any activity that gets the heart rate up. Read a book.

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About the author

Nicholas Haralambous, Entrepreneur

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