The Office Atmosphere Impacts Productivity: Behavior, Appearance and Comfortability

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By Lyndi Catania

The complete atmosphere of an office or workplace correlates with employee productivity. This includes three large areas: behavior, appearance and comfortability.

When it comes to workplace behavior, all employees come into play. It’s not only about how the manager treats his or her staff, it’s also about the relationships of individual workers, as well as departments.

The appearance of the office ties into the design of the office. Furniture placement, lighting, and desk clutter are a few concerns that should rank high on the priority list of creating a productive atmosphere.

With appearance comes comfortability. While appearance and office design is important, it shouldn’t be held higher than comfort, especially because the office is typically a place where employees spend 40 or more hours of their weeks. If a chair is stylish but doesn’t provide enough support for the employees sitting in them day-after-day, take that as a sure sign it should be passed up. Use these descriptions of the highlighted three areas when taking the initiative of creating a productive office atmosphere.

Related Article: How a Good Work Atmosphere Leads to More Success


A work environment should be a mature setting, one where each and every employee is respectful of one another. While respecting one another, employees should make it a point to get to know their coworkers. Participating in team events and team building activities is a beneficial way to accomplish this. After getting to know one another on not only a larger work level, but on a larger personal level, employees are encouraged to communicate more and understand how each person does their job. These are important factors for increasing productivity.

Employees are also more productive when they’re aware of their value and feel appreciated, which is why it’s important for managers to express that. Recognition Source states, “As working the same job, day in and day out, can grow tedious over a long span of time, many corporations use corporate awards to let their employees know that they are valued and provide them with an incentive to deliver top performance at all times.” While it’s unrealistic for working adults to expect constant recognition, I agree that providing an occasional incentive or sign of appreciation has the power to increase self-esteem, motivation and productivity.


As mentioned above, furniture placement, lighting, and desk clutter fall into office appearance. The overall set-up of an office has the ability to impact the way workers act, feel and engage in the workplace. Sometimes this depends on the type of work that’s being done within the office, and sometimes it depends on what the employees prefer. An example is the classic cubicles verse open desks. While some workers prefer an open atmosphere with easy communication, some enjoy having a closed, personal space with zero distraction. But, no matter if there’s cubicles or open desks, proper lighting is needed.

Related Article:Can a Gamified Work Environment Get Your Employees to Better Collaborate?

According to Valley Lighting & Home Decor, “Overhead lighting is good in moderation, but too much of it can be an unnecessary strain on your eyes. Depending on whether you’re working with computers, reading, or doing some other task. Try to rely on other light sources if possible, such as lamps or natural lighting from windows.” Overhead fluorescent lighting has its benefits, but it’s best to take advantage of other sources, rather than one large, harsh source.

When choosing the best way to illuminate the office, take these elements into consideration: natural light, wall color and desks. “An open desk allows space for a desk lamp while a computer style desk with a hutch is the perfect spot for under-cabinet lighting.” Lighting professionals also advise layering lights.

“Try setting pendants at different heights, use a dimmer on overheads or diffuse your lighting by angling it toward the ceiling. Ceiling fixtures should be located so the light falls just in front or to the side of your desk. This is especially helpful if your desk has a high gloss finish that would create a glare if the desk were directly under a ceiling fixture.”

As for desk clutter, organization prevents distraction and mistakes, which in turn, increases productivity. Try encouraging a clutter-free work zone and propose creative ways that will help everyone remain organized. Some examples include:

  • Making priority lists – this way, there aren’t many tasks on the desk at one time.
  • Utilizing a desk organizer – separating papers, supplies, items with deadlines, etc.
  • Importing documents that can be thrown away into the computer

Related Article: Flick of a Switch: How Lighting Affects Productivity and Mood


There’s not much more to comfortability than providing the proper workplace comfort. The elements of comfort include, but are not limited to:

  • Temperature
  • Noise Level
  • Amount of People
  • Air Quality
  • Desk Setting
  • Safety

Some of these elements differ depending on the season, location or individual, but they’re all of high importance. The office atmosphere as a whole impacts productivity. If employees aren’t happy, healthy and comfortable (both physically and mentally), the office atmosphere may have to be altered.