Did you know that 92% of American workers say that when their physical workspace is lacking, their mental well-being and productivity can suffer? 

According to a research study conducted by Kelton Global, the physical workspace affects the mental workspace a lot more than you may realize. The study surveyed adults aged 18 and older who are employed full- or part-time and measured which elements influence employee mood, performance, and overall job satisfaction. The following physical elements were shown to have the greatest negative effect on employee mental well-being at the office.


kelton research study

1. Cluttered Work Area

62% of survey respondents reported that a cluttered workstation would make them unhappy on the job. Upon closer examination of the results, it was revealed that a cluttered workspace has an especially negative effect on women, of whom 70% said that having a cluttered work area would make them unproductive. By comparison, 55% of men felt the same way.

2. Outdated Technology

Using outdated technology was a close second cause of workplace unhappiness among study participants. 61% reported that working with outdated technology would negatively impact their mental state at work, while 1 in 4 said having multiple computer monitors is critical to workplace happiness.

3. Uncomfortable Workspace Ergonomics

More than half of survey respondents stated that an uncomfortable workspace would cause unhappiness at work. This includes not only the type of desk or cubicle the individual works at but the ergonomic features and overall comfort of the office chair.

4. Lack of Privacy and Workspace Flexibility

43% of employed Americans say that not having a private area to work would negatively affect their mental wellness at the office. Additionally, 1 in 4 survey respondents finds value in flexible work environments so that they may work away from their regular work areas when needed.

What Can Business Managers Do to Keep Employees Happy at Work?

The study results are clear—employee satisfaction and productivity decrease when the provided work environment is not up to par. To stave off the negative effects of a poorly designed workplace, consider the 4 major contributing factors when designing your employee workstations and common areas.


1. Offer employees plenty of storage and filing space at their desks and keep most files digital to decrease the amount of visual clutter in the physical workspace.

2. Keep technology as up-to-date as possible, and offer employees multiple monitors. 

3. Provide ergonomic office chairs that can conform to individual users so that every employee can experience comfort at work. 

4. Finally, provide privacy options intended for intense mental focus, and switch up your common areas to provide open collaboration spaces.

When making office design decisions, consider that women are more likely than men (60% versus 49%) to say that an uncomfortable workspace would cause them to be unhappy. Additionally, employees in the millennial generation are the most impacted by the physical workspace, indicating that younger workers may benefit the most from certain upgrades in office furniture and design. By making simple updates to your office's physical look and functionality, you’ll be investing in the future of your business’s workforce.



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