Just like open floor plans at home, open plan offices have been increasing in popularity over the past few years. They often give off the vibe that a business is relevant, relaxed, and has a lot of employee perks – Buzzfeed or Google come to mind?
However, while open plan offices are great for collaboration, they can also lead to stress and a decrease in productivity. 60% of the working day is devoted to individual task-focused work while only 25% is devoted to collaboration. This means that 60% of the time employees in an open plan office are not in the right environment.
In a survey conducted by Unispace, 15% of people reported that noise was the main reason for inefficiency at work. 13% reported that it was lack of quiet areas, while 9% said a lack of privacy was the reason for their lack of productivity.
While collaboration is an important and necessary element of any business, so are individual tasks. Many of the tasks performed at work require the ability to focus, and with no way to shut the door to get some peace and quiet, focusing is becoming increasingly difficult. In open environments increased noise, a lack of privacy and quiet areas consistently show up as top complaints among employees.
What Can Be Done?
Rather than designing an office space that is completely open, take the opposite approach. Have cubicles or private offices for each employee with designated rooms for meetings, collaboration and taking breaks. Put white boards, easels, TVs and large tables in the collaborative spaces so employees will feel inclined to meet there.
If your space allows for it, build a kitchen and break room away from employee’s desks or offices. The smell of food, sounds of people preparing lunch and conversations won’t distract others who aren’t on their break.
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