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.
We supported the Smart Cities event held at The University of Manchester this week where the topic of discussion was ‘How do you solve infrastructure problems before they become a threat?’ Leading figures on transport, infrastructure and energy explored what solutions there are to our burgeoning urban hubs.
The world of work has been changing for many years, decades now. A shift towards activity-based working - the vision of different working areas for different tasks - has been heralded for improving worker productivity.
But does this new way of working spell the end for traditional open-plan offices?
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.
One of themes coming out of our recent whitepaper on the Boundless office (see here to download it: http://connection.uk.com/blog/the-boundless-office-a-white-paper-with-workplace-insight/) is wellness in the workplace. And how office (and furniture) design influences that.
This is a subject we’re interested in as furniture designers and manufacturers and as part of the wider workplace design community and we have talked about it before. To our mind, there are a few factors that influence good workplace design (from the point of view of engendering wellbeing and wellness).
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.
We're constantly looking at the wider design world and trends within that, be that interiors, fashion or graphics. They all inform great product design at some stage. In fact we're a bit obsessed! And one of our Pinterest boards reflects that. Here's what we think about Autumn and Winter 2015 design and colour trends...
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/)