Psychology of the Office Space

The evolution of office space has gone through many different changes through the past century. During the 1920s, Frederick Taylor heavily influenced American office culture by making it his goal to maximize the efficiency of the workplace with a wide-open floor plan and desks facing a supervisor.

Over time, different types of office plans become popular. The “universal offices” of the 1950s had air conditioning, windows and fluorescent lighting. Cubicles were introduced shortly after, with workspaces that were a variety of heights and had freedom of movement. The recession during the 1980s and 1990s brought on mergers and layoffs. The space had to be maximized to allow more workers to fit into the same space.

Open spaces that allowed for more mobility for workers became the trend again in the 1990s through the beginning of the 21st century. Then, collaborative spaces became popular instead of the open workspace model. Employees are able to decide how and where they would like to work.

It is crucial that employees stay motivated to remain productive. In fact, the following is true when people are not motivated to work:

*Employees end up taking more sick days when they are unhappy in the workplace. The estimate is as high as 15 sick days every year.

*Lost productivity leads to less profits. The U.S. economy loses between $450 million to $550 million in profits yearly due to this reason.

Some famous companies that have adopted a more alternative model to increase workers’ levels of satisfaction and efficiency include AOL Ventures, Mozilla, Facebook and Google.

To learn more about the psychology of the office space, checkout this infographic created by the University of Southern California’s Online Master’s in Applied Psychology program.


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