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Tuesday, 21 May

The Evolving Workplace - Demand for Purposeful Design

Some of the products available from ACCO/Leitz
Some of the products available from ACCO/Leitz

The workplace is evolving as a focus on employee wellbeing takes hold nationwide, writes Elisabete  Wells. As a result, concerns about ergonomics are high on employers’ current agendas.

Gone are the days of cube desks and closed-door offices as more and more workplaces move towards open-plan and collaborative workspaces. The evolving workplace brings with it another conundrum - how to increase levels of productivity in the new workplace environment.


Quiet please

Open-plan office designs facilitate and encourage collaboration amongst employees. With few walls or barriers in the way, communication can flow freely. Unfortunately, so can background noise. Open, ergonomically designed workspaces often feature smooth surfaces, which reflect sound, create echoes, and amplify environmental noise. While the little noises of daily office life may seem insignificant, they can have a major impact on productivity. Studies have shown that workers can lose as much as 86 minutes per day to noise distractions. To minimise this loss in productivity, there needs to be a greater focus on quieter operation of workplace equipment.


Maintaining productivity by minimising noise

The design of the office itself can play a major role in minimising noise distractions. Introducing designated 'quiet' and 'loud' spaces provides employees a place to focus on tasks in silence or collaborate freely without disrupting their colleagues.

Choosing soft surfaces such as carpeting or wall panels will help to absorb sound and reduce echoing. Selecting smartly designed equipment can also help to minimise some of the unavoidable noises of everyday workplace functions.


Shredding noise

Products such as the Leitz IQ line of office shredders, which are equipped with a quiet motor and cutting technology that outputs a lower acoustic level, get the job done effectively without disturbing the workflow in an open office environment. Additionally, incorporating accessories such as potted plants into the office décor can also help to absorb sound, as well as creating a welcoming feel in the workspace.



The potential to enhance productivity in smart, open office designs is not limited to noise reduction. Colour is another factor, which has been proven to create a reaction in the brain that can influence employees’ moods and levels of alertness, and boost productivity as a result.

Employers can use wall colour to distinguish between different spaces within the office and encourage a high-energy work environment. Colour can also be used at the employee level to create a sense of individuality and customisation.


Increasing productivity through purposeful design

In an open-plan office, employees do not have walls or barriers to differentiate their own workspace from those of their colleagues. They can, however, create this distinction through design. Employees can reflect their own personality and style in their workspace through the items they introduce to their workspaces. Desk accessories that are both stylish and functional, such as the WOW range from Leitz that comes in a variety of vibrant colours, allow employees to differentiate themselves from their colleagues. Beyond providing individuality, the colours employees surround themselves with can help to curate a certain mood within their workspace.

Vibrant pink and orange help to spark ideas, while more soothing blue and green tones foster a relaxed environment.  Employees can tailor their space to suit their personality while maximising productivity.



While a personalised desk space creates a sense of privacy in an open office space, the lack of true barriers makes clutter hard to hide. The evolving workplace encourages employees to keep their workspace tidy so as not to be perceived as disorganised by their colleagues. This does not have to mean introducing unsightly cardboard boxes or bulky metal filing cabinets to the space or sacrificing style in a sleek open office design. There are products in the market today that are designed to both perform their function and appease the eye. For example, Leitz’s MyBox storage system features stackable plastic storage boxes that aim to hide clutter, while looking sleek and stylish. The range is even available in their four most popular colours from their WOW range. With the right tools, clutter is out of sight, allowing employees to focus on their work instead of their colleagues’ mess.


Productivity with style

The evolution of the workplace is unavoidable, bringing with it various pros and cons. With the right design choices, productivity doesn’t have to suffer for the sake of style.

Elisabete  Wells is the regional marketing director for ACCO UK. To find out more about Leitz - Click Here

Picture: Some of the products available from ACCO/Leitz

Article written by Brian Shillibeer


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