Will an Office Workspace Makeover Boost Employee Productivity?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- The American cubicle worker is imperiled. Sitting, after all, is the new smoking. Employers are pushing workplace wellness programs more than ever, but desks are increasingly cramped: the average work space per-person today is a claustrophobia-inducing 176 square feet, down from 225 square feet in 2010. But can innovative furniture and office design fight the limitations while enhancing employee productivity?

The commercial interiors industry's three-day NeoCon, which began on Monday at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, is featuring designs at the cutting edge of solving this predicament. This is where consumers can find original Haworth Inc. designs, for example, that uses ergonomics to reduce office space risk factors and replace suffocating solitary workspaces with collaborative environments. Companies stressing the smaller but smarter open-plan work desks will cause the average workspace to drop to 151 square feet on average by 2017. But doing so in the right manner can make all the difference.

Haworth, a Holland, Mich.-based company that designs and manufactures adaptable workspaces, has partnered with Delos, a company focused on "wellness" real estate for building homes, offices and schools. Together, the two companies are using research they've commissioned to create a new standard for office space designs dedicated to protecting the mental and physical health of employees in return for increased employee productivity.

Does this mean employee breaks rooms be feng shui-adhering spaces? Not exactly. For many years now, the idea for designing an office space is to make people more productive.

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