Nowadays the ‘office’ whether it be conventional or shared, can vary from private to open plan and requires careful consideration in the initial stages of development. Studies have proven that workplace design and layout play a vital part in workplace performance and productivity. Most companies are moving towards an open plan, which you’d think would increase collaboration and teamwork, but it’s quite the contrary.
Researchers from Harvard University switched a group that normally worked privately in cubicles and placed them in an open office. The end result, people need privacy. Collaboration decreased in this study with 73% less face to face interactions resorting more to electronic means of communications. Email can kill productivity, and this particular group spent 67% more time emailing in an open plan. Let’s face it, listening to a irrelevant conversation while you are deep into your work is distracting so why do that to your colleagues when you can just email the one person that it is relevant to? Exactly. Some argue that open offices can even be bad for the health of your employees – both physically and mentally.
When designing your company’s office/s, you must consider these three factors to ensure a positive outcome.
A distraction-free workplace helps your employees get in the zone and focus on what is in front of them. The less noise and commotion, the better. No noise at all could be a challenge, but you can for sure reduce it with wall panels, room dividers, or simply adding a ‘quiet’ zone for employees to retreat to if and when necessary.
Even if you are an extreme extrovert, spending 40 hours per week with the same person/people can be challenging. Your employees need a break from each other especially if you want them to form genuine outside-of-work friendships. Allow them to move about in the office mingling with everyone, not just the members of their team or department. A great way to boost socialisation would be to create an inviting lounge area for employees to relax in when it’s break time.
A work environment that encourages collaboration will drive your company’s culture and keep employees around. As mentioned, an open plan is not the answer, but intimate meeting rooms and/or small tables (perhaps, in that lounge space) for impromptu meetings are a solution. Large board rooms are cold and uninviting so stick to something that will make a boring meeting brighter.
With careful consideration of those three factors along with ensuring there is sunlight and colour in your office, you are on your way to a new company culture with better results from your team.