How Keeping a Clean Office Can Boost Productivity

As humans discover more about the world and their place in it, they learn a ton about environmental psychology. It turns out that what we surround ourselves with has a massive impact on our mental and emotional states—in sometimes surprising ways. The following will explore the connection between keeping an office space or work environment clean and employee productivity.

What Is Environmental Psychology?

In the last few years, the field of environmental psychology has been producing jaw-dropping research. It is a branch of psychology dedicated to how people interact with their environment. It focuses on how and why our surroundings impact us and what we can do with that information to produce healthier and happier people and cleaner and safer environments.

What Can It Tell Us About Cleanliness?

Study after study has proven that keeping a workspace clean can result in increased productivity. Consistently, it has been shown that higher objective cleanliness (meaning, the space is actually more pristine, with fewer bacteria and less measurable dirt) is significantly correlated with higher productivity. Beyond this, studies have also shown that people are calmer, happier, and more emotionally stable in cleaner environments. Cleanliness is particularly good for reducing stress and anxiety for those in a space.

What Does This Mean For Office Spaces?

These studies suggest that keeping an office clean can have a measurable positive impact on employee productivity and motivation. It’s important to note that these studies emphasize the space actually needs to be cleaner, not just appear cleaner to your staff. Experts at point out that having fresh eyes on your space can help identify areas that need cleaning but have gone without it for so long that most people in the building no longer notice them. 

The majority of offices keep the obvious things clean—sweeping or vacuuming or mopping the floors, washing windows, and dusting—but most of us don’t think about the grime that’s built upon the trim or take the time to wash the bathroom stall walls. Hiring a commercial cleaning service for either a one-off appointment or a regularly scheduled visit can make a big difference. 

Environmental Psychology Is Nothing New

But just because some of the research is new, I don’t think the field of study is. Environmental psychology began way back in the 1200s when Marco Polo was traveling through the various kingdoms in Western Asia. He noted extreme cultural differences between societies that lived next door to each other.

The king of Kerman was most interested in these findings and asked the educated men around him for a reason. When they suggested the cultural differences could come from the soil, he conducted an experiment whereby he brought soil from another land and sprinkled it across the floor in his banquet hall before covering it up with rugs. He noted differences in people’s behavior resulting in the first environmental psychology study maybe ever.

What Can Environmental Psychology Teach Us?

Environmental psychologists work to understand how to better improve our physical surroundings to produce positive results for the people within. This could mean studying the best layout for hospital rooms for patients’ health and wellbeing. This could mean figuring out how best to layout furniture for positive sales results. This could mean studying which materials and colors bring about creativity or productivity. Environmental psychology can teach us how to best design and maintain our spaces for optimal performance.

The Concept Of Geographical Determinism

Geographical determinism is also something explored by environmental psychologists. This is the idea that entire civilizations are shaped and dependent upon environmental factors. These factors can include water availability, topography, vegetation, and climate. Some people have even gone so far as to suggest that the lifespan of a civilization is dependent on geography. This idea has been around for ages. Plato, Aristotle, Montesquieu, and Darwin all talked about the importance of the environment in the development of people’s mentality, society, culture, and work output.

Hopefully, the above information has opened your eyes to the power that our environments have over our mental states. Every month, more studies are being released that emphasize the importance of our space for happiness, creativity, productivity, focus, and relaxation. 

Cleanliness is only the first step towards creating a more productive work environment. The colors you choose, the materials used, the layout of furniture—all these things can also alter the mindset of people within the space. Before you paint or order new office furniture, it might be worth doing a little research to see how your choices will impact your staff.