The more productive your team is, the more money you make. The trouble is that few productivity investments justify their cost.

Sure, you could get everyone new computers, buy state-of-the-art project management software, or even swap out poor performers on your team. All of those things might soup up your team’s productivity — but will they? You won’t know until you’ve spent tens of thousands on technology or new hires.

Rather than make big, uncertain bets, spend a little to improve your office environment. The right degree of openness and the right amenities can make double-digit improvements to your team’s productivity. These four tweaks are a great place to start:

1. Control noise levels.

You know how distracting a noisy workspace can be. Noise-canceling headphones or white-noise apps can help, but they’re not office-wide solutions. Especially if you have an open-concept space, invest in soundproofing. Adding mass loaded vinyl to the walls can drop noise levels by dozens of decibels.

If you have a multimedia production team that works on podcasts or other audio assets, go the extra mile. Use acoustical caulk to seal spaces between sound panels and floors. Consider adding a floating floor — which is really just a wooden framework atop the existing floor — to dampen vibrations. Although those are more expensive upgrades, bear in mind that they’ll make teams on both sides of the door more productive. 

2. Designate a creative space.

Most workers feel their office space doesn’t help them be creative. They might be fine sitting in a cubicle while they hammer out emails, but what about when it’s time to come up with that next marketing campaign? For creative activities, employees need a dedicated space. 

Fortunately, your creative space doesn’t need to be huge. Because brainstorms and other creative collaborations work best with small teams, a space for six or 10 should be enough. Outfit it with comfortable yet visually interesting furniture, thought-provoking art, and mementos from your company’s creative successes. Be sure to give it the noise-reduction treatment, too.

If you’re at an agency or another company with lots of creatives, take a “phone booth” approach. Let people check out closet-sized rooms where they can strategize, write, and design. Although real walls are a better choice for noise-proofing, curtain dividers can work if you’re on a tight budget.

3. Upgrade your work stations.

Don’t just pay attention to the rooms of your office; think about the stations team members actually work at. Nearly half of workers who switch from a seated desk to a standing one report that it increases their productivity.

Just as importantly, think about the equipment your employees use. You may not have the funds to buy everyone a brand-new computer, but you can probably afford some new accessories. Are old keyboards giving people carpal tunnel?

Does a left-handed employee need a special mouse? Improving ergonomics can boost productivity while reducing stress and work-related healthcare expenses. 

4. Use color wisely.

Have you ever noticed how much a fresh coat of paint can change the mood of an entire room? Depending on how your office is painted, your color scheme might be creating stress or a sense of sterility.

What colors are best for an office space? Experts suggest choosing subtle colors like off-white, light blue, teal, or gray. Cool tones produce a calming effect and also give a professional impression to visitors. Warm ones like yellow, light orange, or pink can work for creative spaces.

The only two “never ever” colors for office spaces are stark white — which can seem clinical and dirties quickly — red, and black. Especially when it’s a bright hue or used on every wall, red can amplify anxiety. Black walls can make spaces feel suffocating or depressing.

Your workspace doesn’t have to be a palace in order to promote productivity. Ask team members which upgrades matter most to them, and budget accordingly. You can always invest in others once the initial improvements pay off.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.