How Your Work Environment Affects Performance

A Group of People Smiling and Talking

With over 25 years of human resources experience, Sue Lang has worked with iconic brands such as Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue and currently operates a consulting agency based in Michigan. Cisso Bean & Dutch, wishes to thank Sue for accepting our invitation to be a Guest Blogger and for her invaluable insights. For more on Sue, visit her LinkedIn here.

An office space is much more than walls, ceilings, doors, and floors. Its condition can actually have a direct impact on employee productivity and morale; therefore, it makes perfect sense to generate a workspace that is conducive to the well-being of the workforce.

Today, employers can use the work environment in creative ways to motivate, inspire, and even energize their teams. You can create a better, healthier work environment by addressing issues you may not have been aware of. Implementing these needed changes can result in happier employees, higher productivity, and overall better well-being.

If you’re convinced your work environment needs improvement but aren’t sure where to start, here are some factors to consider.


Noise is one of the greatest distractions in the workplace and can easily lead to a decrease in productivity. While open work spaces are slowly becoming the norm for businesses, they can create situations where it’s impossible for some people to focus. One good way to combat this is by offering employees multiple spaces to go to focus and get work done, such as empty offices or designated quiet spaces. Offering different options is also a good idea because no two employees are the same—some people work better when there’s background noise while others work better when it’s completely silent.


The office lighting can actually have a significant effect on employees’ well-being. Dim lighting drastically lowers productivity and fluorescent lighting has been known to cause headaches. Being away from natural light for several hours a day can also result in a decrease in Vitamin D, which can leave people feeling depressed and even weaken their immune systems. To combat these, try incorporating both natural and artificial light. Being near windows can help employees feel more relaxed and focused, and a bright space helps facilitate a cheerful mood and increased productivity.


Just like noise, being too hot or too cold can be distracting and lead to low productivity. While there isn’t a perfect temperature for every single employee, try to find the “happy medium” that most of your team is comfortable with.


Believe it or not, the furniture in an office space can have a considerable impact on productivity. Ensuring your employees are comfortable in their chairs and desks—especially if they sit for several hours a day—can decrease distractions and make putting in the hours a lot easier. Considering the furniture could also set your employees up for healthier lives in the long run. Research ergonomic office furniture to protect your team from musculoskeletal injuries. Invest in transitioning standing desks and allow your employees to effortlessly transition from sitting to standing.


There are many studies that suggest poor air quality reduces energy levels and affects concentration. Plants can be used to connect employees to a more natural environment. Even background music, while not suitable for every work environment, can often motivate and energize employees. Installing gym equipment and changing rooms can encourage employees to exercise, which in turn can increase the energy and overall mood of your employees.

Although nothing takes the place of meaningful work, supportive colleagues, a great boss and being a part of a thriving company, don’t overlook other factors that can have an effect on performance.

There’s a good book (easy read) on engaging and retaining talent called Love’Em or Lose’Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye & Sharon Jordan-Evans. Among the many thought nuggets in the book is one about the Stay Interview. In essence, don’t wait until an exit interview to learn that a small change in the work environment could have made a difference in keeping a good employee!