Physical working environment and organizational performance

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In today’s competitive business environment, organizations can no longer afford to waste the potential of their workforce. There are key factors in the employee’s physical working environment that impact greatly on their level of motivation and performance. The physical working environment that is set in place impacts employee morale, productivity and engagement – both positively and negatively. It is not just coincidence that new programs addressing lifestyle changes, work/life balance, health and fitness – previously not considered key benefits – are now primary considerations of potential employees, and common practices among the most admired companies.

The environment is man’s immediate surrounding which he manipulates for his existence. Wrongful manipulation introduces hazards that make the environments unsafe and impede the productivity rate of the worker. Therefore, the workplace entails an environment in which the worker performs his work (Chapins, 1995) while an effective workplace is an environment where results can be achieved as expected by management (Mike, 2010; Shikdar, 2002). Physical working environment affect how employees in an organization interact, perform tasks, and are led. Physical working environment as an aspect of the work environment have directly affected the human sense and subtly changed interpersonal interactions and thus productivity. This is so because the characteristics of a room or a place of meeting for a group have consequences regarding productivity and performance level. The physical workplace environment is the most critical factor in keeping an employee satisfied in today’s business world. Today’s workplace is different, diverse, and constantly changing. The typical employer/employee relationship of old has been turned upside down. Workers are living in a growing economy and have almost limitless job opportunities. This combination of factors has created an environment where the business needs its employees more than the employees need the business (Smith, 2011).

A large number of physical work environment studies have shown that workers/users are satisfied with reference to specific workspace features. These features preference by users are highly significant to their productivity and workspace performance, they are lighting, ventilation rates, access to natural light and acoustic environment (Humphries, 2005; Veitch, Charles, Newsham, Marquardt & Geerts, 2004; Karasek & Theorell, 1990).

Lighting and other factors like ergomic furniture has been found to have positive influence on employees health (Dilani, 2004; Milton, Glencross & Walters, 2000; Veitch & Newsham, 2000) and consequently on productivity. This is so because light has a profound impact on worker’s/people’s physical, physiological and psychological health, and on their overall performance at the workplace. Ambient features in office environments, such as lighting, temperature, existence of windows, free air movement etc, suggest that these elements of the physical environment influence employee’s attitudes, behaviours, satisfaction, performance and productivity (Larsen, Adams, Deal, Kweon & Tyler, 1998).

Closed office floor plan, whether each employee has a separate office of their own or there are a few people in each closed office, allows staff a greater amount of privacy than an open plan office layout. They have the chance to work in peace and quiet, keeping them focused on the tasks in hand without getting overtly distracted by what their colleagues are doing. It offers employees a thinking fame or be creative without much interruption (Mwbex, 2010). In the open office plan, noise existence is stressful and demotivating, posses’ high level of distraction and disturbance coupled with low privacy level (Evans & Johnson, 2000).

With technological development, innovative communication methods, virtual reality; e-market improvement and alternative work patterns, workplace continues to change rapidly (Challenger, 2000). To accommodate these rapid changes while maintaining or improving outcomes, organizations have increasingly turned to some version of environment such as open office space (Terricone and Luca, 2002). This type of work environment supports new styles of working and flexible workplaces which offers interpersonal access and ease of communication compared to fully enclosed private offices. This change to open plan office has increased employee’s productivity compared to closed office spaces (Becker, 2002).

Furthermore, it is easier to communicate with someone whom you can see more easily than someone adjacent/distant or separated by objects from you (J’Istvan in Business (2010). The open office creates egalitarian system with equal working conditions that reduces the distance between employees and improves communication flow (Brennan, Chugh & Kline, 2002, Hedge, 1986, 2000).
Noise is one of the leading causes of employees’ distraction, leading to reduced productivity, serious inaccuracies, and increased job-related stress. According to Bruce (2008), study showed that workplace distractions cut employee productivity by as much as 40%, and increase errors by 27%. Also, Moloney (2011) citing Loftness study of 2003 confirmed the importance of natural light and air (ventilation) to worker performance. The study showed a 3-
18% gain in productivity in buildings with day-lighting system.

The physical working environment in a majority of organizations and industry is unsafe and unhealthy. These includes poorly designed workstations, unsuitable furniture, lack of ventilation, inappropriate lighting, excessive noise, insufficient safety measures in fire emergencies and lack of personal protective equipment. People working in such environment are prone to occupational disease and it impacts on employee’s performance. Thus organizational performance is decreased due to the workplace environment. It is a wide occupational area where the employees are facing a serious problem in their work place like environmental and physical factors. So it will be difficult to provide facilities to increase their performance level.

The following are the objectives of this study:

  1. To examine the impact of physical working environment on organizational performance.
  2. To identify the factors that contributes to good physical working environment in an organization.
  3. To determine other factors that enhances organizational performance.


  1. What is the impact of physical working environment on organizational performance?
  2. What are the factors that contribute to good physical working environment in an organization?
  3. What are the other factors that enhance organizational performance?

HO: There is no significant relationship between physical working environment and organizational performance.
HA: There is significant relationship between physical working environment and organizational performance.
The following are the significance of this study:

  1. The result from this study will educate business managers on the relationship between physical working environment and organizational performance. It will also educate on the factors that contributes to good physical working environment for employee to enhance their performance.
  2. This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.

This study will cover the relationship between physical working environment and organizational performance.
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work

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Bruce. (2008). How much can noise affect your worker’s productivity. Retrieved February 29, 2012 from
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Karasek, R., & Theorell, T. (1990). Health work: Stress, productivity and the reconstruction of working life. New York: Basic Books.
Veitch, J.A., & Newsham, G.R. (2000). Exercised control, lighting choices and energy use: An office simulation experiment. Journal of Environmental Psychology,20(3), 219-237.
Veitch, J.A., Charles, K.E., Newsham, G.R., Marquardt, C.J.G., & Geerts, J. (2004). Workstation characteristics and environmental satisfaction in open-plan offices.COPE Field Findings (NRCC-47629) Ottawa, Canada: National Research Council.
Terricone, P., & Luca, I. (2002). Employees, teamwork and social interdependence: A formula for successful business? Team Performance Management: An International Journal, 8(3/4), 54-55.

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