Recent research indicates that open-plan offices can decrease employee productivity, health and happiness. Ambient noise and other distractions present in open office environments have been shown to reduce productivity.
A recent study by Harvard Business School suggests that open-plan offices actually lead to a 72% drop in face-to-face interaction between employees, with more email use and less productivity. According to another piece of research, conducted by Ipsos and Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures team, office workers are losing a total of 86 minutes every day to distractions.
So what can we do?
By using good, thoughtful design, the majority of open offices can be adapted to create a flexible, attractive and more productive environment without needing a complete redesign:
1. Create comfortable and versatile breakout spaces, with sofas and coffee tables, for checking emails, taking a break and socialising
2. Encourage employees to leave their desks by providing a variety of areas for different tasks and interactions, designing your space to encourage ‘collisions’ between colleagues
3. Provide private or partially private spaces for meetings away from the desks, such as pods or prefabricated ‘rooms’ within the space
4. Use screens and high-backed furniture such as booths, to provide spaces with visual and acoustic privacy for focused work, meetings and phone calls workers may not wish to share with the whole office
5. Collaboration tables allow co-workers to spread their work out, move around, work together and be creative
These simple inclusions will go a long way to ensuring a productive and happy workplace, whilst retaining and building on the open-plan ethos of communication and collaboration.
The Facilities Managers amongst our readers will know that there is a lot involved in ensuring that an organisation has the most suitable working environment for its staff/ students/visitors. They will also know the difficulty of coordinating and the various activities that creative an effect, enjoyable and safe site.
As the person responsible for the ‘facility’, the Facilities Manager is the ultimate organizer, responsible for both operational and environmental concerns. It’s a tough job and we salute them for their efforts! In fact, the whole world can salute them in July. Global FM, the Global Facility Management Association, has set Wednesday 13th July as the date for ‘World FM Day’ 2016.
We have just published a white paper in conjunction with Workplace Insight, entitled “The Boundless Office’, you can access it here on our website, to read as a pdf on screen or to download.
The white paper looks at the profound change in the nature of work over the last 10 years. This change has given rise to ‘the boundless office’, which has altered the way we design, manage and use those spaces. A whole set of themes come out of that and each is in fact worthy of a blog post in itself.
One of the main, yet commonly underappreciated fields of innovation in the workplace is that of materials and finishes. Underlying this shift is the understanding that, as we develop new materials and design and manufacturing technologies, so we are able to offer people and organisations more choice about how to express their tastes, values and identities and tap into the social, economic and commercial attitudes that define them.
This perhaps sounds like an oxymoron: open plan office workspaces and privacy. Is that possible? We think so.
We’ve talked recently at our design trends seminars in London and Cambridge, delivered by Scarlet Opus, about the increasingly talked-about issue of privacy.
During the next year we will, perhaps, reach a critical tipping point of having shared so much about ourselves online; opened ourselves up so completely in the workplace with open plan layouts, made ourselves totally accessible; that we will finally want to ‘take back control’:
We have just published a whitepaper in conjunction with Workplace Insights, entitled “The changing role of buildings in the UK public sector and the growth of agile workplaces”, you can access here it on our website, to read as a pdf on screen or to download.
Wellbeing in the workplace is a topic we often talk about with our customers and partners. The wellbeing of employees, staff, students - anyone who comes together to use corporate, public or educational spaces - has been a subject of much discussion over the past few years. Witness, for example, the setting up of ‘Business Healthy’ by the City of London (https://www.businesshealthy.org/)