The Cost of Bad Office Design [2019 Update]

If you’re looking into designing or redesigning office spaces for your organization, you first need to know a lot about the impact of design to productivity, performance and well-being. Otherwise, you could risk investing a lot for a bad office design.

One of the key determinants of company culture and success is office designs. This is why a lot of large companies allocate a huge budget for office design research and development. Companies like Microsoft continue to experiment on office design to figure out a setting for better collaboration and overall company performance. 

In fact, since 2010, Microsoft has been experimenting with some of their workspaces to come up with a more team-centric setup. From changing desk arrangements, floor plans and even experimenting with hybrid office setups, Microsoft continues to do their study with office designs so their employees can operate at peak performance. 

Microsoft has even gone as far as creating treehouse offices because studies have shown that being in nature improves creativity, happiness and focus. Having a good office design is ideal. But, what would happen if employees work in an office with a bad or even terrible design?

If you’ve experienced working in an office wherein its design isn’t given much importance, you should know how suffocating it can be. Was is stressful? Frustrating? Distracting? How was your productivity working in an office with a bad office design?

In this article, we’ll share with you the real cost of a bad office design. We’ll show you just how detrimental a bad office design can be through statistics and results of numerous studies.

The Cost of Bad Office Design

One of the major disadvantages of working in a place with bad office design is suffering from what’s called a “sick-building-syndrome”. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, sick-building-syndrome is:

“The sick building syndrome comprises of various nonspecific symptoms that occur in the occupants of a building. This feeling of ill health increases sickness absenteeism and causes a  decrease in productivity of the workers.”

The same study also mentioned how this condition is becoming a major occupational hazard. One of the main causes of sick-building-syndrome is poor ventilation. Here are the symptoms of this condition according to E Medicine Health:

  1. Nausea
  2. Eye, nose and throat irritation
  3. Mental fatigue
  4. Headaches
  5. Skin irritation
  6. Dizziness

Moreover, a bad office design contributes to work stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, “job stress is far and away from the major source of stress for American adults”. Office design impacts employee well-being.

Office design is a valuable investment because it affects:

  • Employee Productivity
  • Performance
  • Satisfaction
  • Resilience at Work
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Retention
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Stress levels

According to Inc, bad office designs lead to higher stress levels, conflict, bickering, mental health issues, rifts between departments and even physical health issues. These physical health issues can include:

  1. Reduced eye vision
  2. Back, shoulders and neck aches

According to the report, “Workplace Conflict and How Businesses Can Harness It”, 34% of employee conflict is caused by work stress. 

In a study conducted by Dell, they were able to highlight workplace issues related to office design. Here are the top 10 factors impacting productivity according to their research:

  1. 35% – Unsuitable office temperature
  2. 34% – Colleagues talking to loud
  3. 32% – Unnecessary meetings
  4. 29% – Old or out-of-date technology
  5. 28% – Lack of quiet working areas
  6. 24% – Messy Desks
  7. 22% – Poor Wi-Fi
  8. 22% – Poor lighting
  9. 20% – Lack of training
  10. 19% – Poorly integrated technology

Part of the study also mentioned that 73% of employees would consider leaving their jobs if their employers fail to provide an office conducive for work for them to perform well. 

Remember that the quality of the workforce is the quality of the organization. If the quality of the workspace affects the productivity of employees, a bad office design results to poor performance. 

In the world of business where competition is fierce, poor performance can lead to the death of your organization. According to Gettysburg, ⅓ of our lives will be spent at work. Let your employees find comfort and happiness with their time at work. 

Factors to Consider to Avoid Bad Office Design

Now that you know the risks of having a bad office design, here are some of the factors you need to consider to have a good office design:

Private Areas

According to FM Link, noise and not having privacy are considered to be two of the main sources of stress. There should be spaces for collaboration and areas for when employees need to concentrate.

Incorporate these private spaces so your employees can be more engaged and creative at work. This also helps them become more productive and perform better.


To lower or eliminate the risk of sick-building-syndrome, ensure that office spaces have good ventilation. According to Biddle, these are the benefits of having good ventilation system:

  1. Air Regulation
  2. Stop Condensation
  3. Reduce Temperatures
  4. Control Impurities
  5. Avoid Health Issues

Fresh air is crucial to our health. When planning for office designs, be sure to incorporate good ventilation.


According to East-West Electric, lighting affects mood and outlook of the employees, worker fatigue, short-term and long-term employee health. Lighting is also crucial for workplace safety hazards.

Do more research on lighting as the type of lighting can vary depending on the nature of wok  and even age of employees. 


Installing plants in the office is also ideal. There’s a lot of benefits with having plants inside the office. According to CIPHR, these are the benefits of having plants:

  1. They help reduce stress.
  2. Plants help increase productivity.
  3. Helps reduce absence rates and sickness.
  4. Plants clean the air.
  5. They reduce noise levels.
  6. Helps boost creativity.

Moreover, plants also make the office more attractive. 

With enough research, you can be well on your way to creating a good office design. Reach out to professionals as they are crucial in the planning process. With whatever you do, don’t settle for a bad office design.

A bad office design is wasted investment. Care for your company, care for your employees and care for having a good office design.