Why Coworking?

3 Interior Design Features that Affect Productivity

Nicki Empson | Dean Leite

26 April 2019

How many times have you walked into an office, a cafe, or even your home, wanting to get work done but instead NOTHING happens; no coherent emails, no done deals, no words on paper, not even one tick on your to-do list? 

Don't be too hard on yourself, it's not always you to blame for a lack of productivity. OneCoWork designers have been meticulous in their research on how to increase productivity through design and it’s been proven there is a link between interior design and levels of productivity. 

We aren't giving you a free pass to blame your lack of productivity on how many windows are in your workspace; if you're just too tired, then windows won’t help, go and take a nap! We are going to share some findings with you and walk you through 3 design features that can have an effect on whether you close 10 deals or none.


Humans need exposure to natural light in order to regulate mood, to experience feelings of happiness and to sleep well. A 2014 study called 'Impact of Workplace Daylight Exposure on Sleep, Physical Activity, and Quality of Life' conclusively found that:

- Workers working in areas of the office without windows scored lower on quality life measures related to health problems and vitality.

- Workers that had no to little exposure to natural light slept on average 46 minutes less than those that had exposure.

- Workers without exposure to natural light had poorer outcomes in measures of sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disruption and daytime dysfunction.

So next time, when you can't seem to put pen to paper or fingers to keys, find a naturally lit space to seek inspiration. It helps.


Humans are social by nature. When we have meaningful and valuable interactions, we feel happier, we sleep better, we get more done. Spaces that have been designed to encourage interactions are also spaces that encourage productivity. What type of features encourages interactions? Think strategically placed coffee machines, cleverly placed staircases, and central bathroom locations. What do these 3 features have in common? They are all absolute necessities; we all need coffee (even those that think they don't, do), we all need to go to the bathroom and we all need to take stairs. What better way to create organic interactions than by utilizing the features we all use every day?

Steve Jobs placed the bathrooms on the middle floor of the Pixar headquarters; he wanted to create as many interactions between as many of the employees as possible (there was a slight issue that these were the only bathrooms for 100s of employees, but other than that it was a good idea!).

Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company, saw a 20% increase in sales the quarter after changing their coffee machine placement strategy. They replaced the old coffee machines with better ones but fewer of them. Now, there's 1 coffee machine for 120 employees rather than 1 for 6, forcing employees who may not otherwise chat with each other to engage.

Staircases, surely just a functional feature to allow people to move from one floor to another, right? Kind of. Functional indeed but cleverly designed staircases also encourage people to engage. Staircases positioned in the very center of a building mean they become the easiest and quickest means of moving between floors, rather than taking the lift. The more people that use the staircase the more they have an opportunity to bump into each other. Equally, having large landings at both the top and bottom of the staircase where people can gather makes it a great social point. Interaction with others throughout your day does wonders for productivity. 


Despite what you've been told for years, a distraction at work isn't actually a bad thing, especially not if what is distracting you is art. In fact, it's quite the opposite; art and decor in a workspace can boost productivity. Dr. Craig Knight, who has studied the psychology of workspaces for over 12 years at the University of Exeter is onboard with us on this one.  He says, “if you enrich a space people feel much happier and work better; a very good way of doing this is by using art”. According to a survey conducted by the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), a nonprofit organization that encourages businesses to support the arts in the workplace (amongst other places), 82% of employees said art was important in the work environment, and 73% percent said their view of the company would change if the art were removed. By eliciting positive emotions, stimulating ideas and giving employees something visually appealing to look at while they work, art can make a huge difference in employee satisfaction, wellbeing, and productivity.


We can't promise the productivity gained from good interior design will balance out the productivity lost from a wild night out. However, we can guarantee that if you put this to the test, try a workspace that has natural light flooding in, few but strategically placed coffee machines, a large central and inviting staircase and inspiring art decorating the walls, you are very likely to see a difference in your productivity levels. Go on, give it a go.

Looking for a new coworking space? We would love to show you around our new facility in Gotic that has (conveniently) all of the above, click here to book a tour.

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