Most people that have worked in an office would probably agree with a recent study (pdf) that was undertaken “to examine the relationship between workstation features … and the comfort and performance [of employees]“. They found:

  • The greater control employees have over the adjustment of interior workstation features, the lower the stress they experience.
  • The more effectively the interior workstation layout supports the work process, the greater the job satisfaction.

Workspace Control

It comes as little surprise that employees would experience less workspace stress when they have more control over their workspace. When thinking through many offices that I’ve seen, employers have often chosen less-expensive models of furniture that often come with less customizability. The study found that “task chair, lighting, display shelves, storage, keyboard and mouse trays, and monitor arms” are all important to employees.

Workspace Effectiveness

While it might seem that all employees need is a desk, a chair, a computer, and access to office supplies to be effective, the study found that a workstation that is tailored to the specific job is the most effective and improves work satisfaction. Workstation variables “such as amount of space, arrangement of furniture/equipment, storage capacity and accessibility to reference materials influence the quality of the work process, which in turn affects job satisfaction”.

Takeaways

  • Think through employee needs when designing workstations, but revisit after several months and ask employees if they have any additional needs.
  • Don’t forget that all employees are not average human size and might have different needs from one another.
    • If you’re going to spend $300 on each chair, consider offering several options at that price point.
    • Many furniture manufacturers now offer adjustable height desks.
  • Employees will most likely have a better impression of their company management if their work needs are considered.
  • If possible, produce data regarding the changes made to workstations to prove effectiveness. But, don’t forget that some things may simply have perceived value and add to employee satisfaction.

Readers: What adjustable workstation features have you found to make you more effective and your job more satisfying?