While open office plans and shared workspace environments have been championed as ways to boost collaboration, productivity, and creativity; new studies reveal that open-plan offices have detrimental effects on workers.
Studies have shown that employees in open-plan offices show an increase in stress-levels, and a decrease in focus and productivity.
The Gensler Study
conducted by the leading US design firm, has found that 69% of workers in open-plan offices are dissatisfied with noise levels and 77% of employees prefer quiet when they need to focus. As a recent article in the New Yorker
has pointed out,
“… when we’re exposed to too many inputs at once—a computer screen, music, a colleague’s conversation, the ping of an instant message—our senses become overloaded, and it requires more work to achieve a given result.”
The challenge for businesses becomes: How do we create open office plans that foster collaboration, increase productivity, boost morale, and stimulate creativity while retaining an open floor plan?
Further studies have shown that those workplaces that support both the individual work and collaborative work see a significant spike in performance. So, creating zones that are designated for specific tasks within the open-plan office seems to be the answer.
It is time to re-energize open office plans.
Build “Quiet Zones”
Quiet areas are a must. With deadlines, projects, and sprints looming, your employees need to be able to concentrate and get their job done. Creating quiet zones as a part of open office plans where workers are invited to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the open-plan environment boosts productivity and increases focus.
Establish Team Spaces
Sometimes specific teams of 4-6, like engineers or creatives need space to brainstorm and collaborate. Lively (and loud!) discussions are better held in private conference rooms so that these teams do not disrupt others from their workflow.
Create Meeting Areas
Whether the entire office needs to meet-up for a monthly check-in, or just to sign-up for healthcare; it’s important to have a designated area where your whole team can meet. Circular layouts that allow everyone to see and hear each other are ideal.
The motto of most businesses in this era is: “Work hard, play harder.” Reward your employees and build company loyalty by creating an inviting hangout spot. Here, teams are encouraged to strengthen their relationships both after hours and during company lunches, and learn how to communicate and work together better.
While open office plans and shared workspace environments have their share of pros and cons, it is important to find a way to make these spaces work for you. By creating designated zones where your employees can collaborate, focus, or relax, you will evolve your office, build a highly efficient team, and increase worker productivity.