Employer Branding

Does Office Design Really Affect Productivity?

Over the years, there has been a drastic change in the way office space is designed.

From large offices crammed full of desks, to the more recent open-plan, collaborative spaces – office interiors have evolved to reflect attitudes to work and changes in the economy.

So does office design really effect productivity in the workplace? In the infographic below, from USC have shed some light into the evolution of the office space, and how each design has affected workers.


  • In the early 1920s, the goal of the office space to to create an environment for maximum productivity. All desks faced a supervisor and each worker sat alone at a forward facing desk.
  • The 1930s and 40s bought air conditioning and fluorescent lighting to offices. This changed interior design of offices as office furniture was no longer limited to being near windows or plug sockets.
  • The 1960s saw the rise of the cubicle. Now this word may strike fear into your heart, but it actually worked in improving productivity and gave workers there own makeshift offices.
  • The recession between the 80s and 90s saw cubicle design to the extreme – companies were cramming as many people as they could into whatever space they could find to save money.
  • In more recent times, the world has embraced a more open plan type office, with space for collaboration and discussion. It has been argued that this causes distractions in the workplace.
  • Distractions, air quality and office lighting are the top 3 factors which decide whether or not your office is a productive one.
  • Having a nice working environment means workers are going to be happier. Unmotivated workers cost money!

RELATED: What Office Design is Best for Creating a Happy and Productive Workforce?