Does Office Design Affect An Employee's Mood?

Does the design of your office affect the mood of your employees? The Wall Street Journal and NPR recently reported on research studies conducted by a variety of institutions that support an answer of "yes" to architecture and design not only influencing our mood, but also our thoughts and our health.

I've been an interior designer for more than 25 years, and I live for this type of information. Our job as designers is to translate this research evidence into the design solutions we develop for our clients each day - creating a smarter office space that helps them to achieve their unique goals. The news coverage got me thinking of examples of how our team has utilized research evidence in recent office designs.

The Impact of Color
Research: Red environments have proven effective for employees that require a high level of accuracy and attention to detail while blue environments show stronger results for supporting creativity. (Source: University of British Columbia)

GS&P recently used this research evidence when developing a design solution for CSX. The company was relocating more than 800 of their Technology and Intermodal employees (leaders when it comes to safe operations) to a newly leased office space in downtown Jacksonville. Understanding the influence of color, our team designed the space using a lively rich and warm color palette infused with red - a color supportive of the attention-heavy job requirements. Complementing colors to red are used to reinforce one of CSX's primary corporate colors, rich  yellow (used as the "CSX" on engines and box cars). This color palette allows for the integration of images from their internal photo gallery to be used throughout the office space to further reinforce CSX's core values to the workforce on a daily basis.  

Open vs. Closed Environments
Research: Open-plan offices have been found to have positive effects including increased employee communication, interaction and flexibility. (Source: Knoll)

With our own firm's focus on employee creativity and collaboration, recent design improvements for our office space in Jacksonville include the absence of walls between the workstations which fosters collaboration and enhances the design experience.  Designers can communicate spontaneously, resolving problems quickly and examining issues from unexpected points of view. This exciting exchange of ideas creates a buzz of activity during all stages of the design process. And, by locating the private offices on the center core of the building with studio spaces along the windows, 95% of employees have access to daylight.

Is the design of your office space having a positive effect on your employees? How are you using research evidence to support your design decisions?

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  • September 19, 2011 @ 7:36 PM

    Elise Moore

    I find it interesting that my own design firm's office is painted a drab muddy green because the Principal likes that color. It does affect the way one feels about their workspace. I would prefer a "white " environment so that the palettes of the projects we are working on are not influenced by the office surroundings. We also have the open" cubbie" type workspace but I sometimes find the noise level incredibly distracting. I happen to have an office with a door and I do prefer it for actually getting serious work done.

  • September 20, 2011 @ 9:46 AM

    Leith Oatman

    Good comment about privacy - I too have sit in an office - albeit with glass walls and sliding glass barn door. We have found that if we incorporate small enclaves - the workforce is encouraged to utilize them for private calls. When we renewed our lease, we elected to paint our walls stark white - so that we could highlight our designs. We have spots of red accents - but the white does provide a clean crisp back drop for displays.

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