Some people can work anywhere — and through anything. Office banter? No problem. That guy who keeps forgetting to silence his phone? It doesn't matter. Thanks to genetics, or some special childhood conditioning, they have an inner zen that lets them focus in the midst of chaos.

For everyone else, surroundings play an important role. A meta analysis conducted several years ago examines how a number of factors — lighting, office design, color, noise, even plants — affect job performance. The authors conclude that productivity is strongly correlated to office surroundings; when workers are in an environment they find appealing, they work harder, feel more contented, and get more done.

Components of Productive Office Spaces

  • Offices that respect your need for privacy. Gone are the days of open offices. Originally designed to make the workplace seem more equalitarian, the open office simply made subordinate workers feel like they were being monitored. Having the privacy to work uninterrupted is what most workers need to be their most effective.
  • Easy access to nature. Whether it's a beautiful view outside the windows of the conference room, a variety of houseplants, or an atrium where workers can enjoy their break, the presence of nature helps people relax, which in turn spurs productivity. In fact, one study found that Oregon workers who faced the side of the building that overlooked greenery took 19 percent less sick days than those on the other side.
  • Noise-reduction technology. CNBC reports that 58 percent of high performance workers wish they had a quieter office, and 54 percent think the workplace is "too distracting."
  • The right color scheme. In the same way that color can stimulate appetite, it can boost productivity. Neutral beiges and grays evoke sadness, while yellow sparks innovation and cool colors like blue and green improve efficiency and focus. 

More Tips for Improving Productivity

Even the perfect office design can't help on those days when you are overwhelmed by too many tasks. Here are some simple strategies to get things done -- even when you don't want to.

  • Do the hardest task of the day first. Like an ice cold shower, it's painful — but you feel great afterward.
  • Prioritize three essential things to do each day — and forget about the small stuff. You will be amazed at how much less overwhelmed and panicked you feel. 

Find Your Office Zen

FIRMSPACE, the upscale professional workplace, puts your business into a space designed to maximize productivity and boost creative energy. Since its launch in 2017, the company has opened locations in Austin and Denver. Book a conference room or take a tour to learn how the amenities of some of the country's most beautiful buildings can be available for your business.