In the past few years, workspace design has seen an emerging trend of wide open offices, with no walls or barriers, no cubicles – hailed as perfect for collaborative, inspired projects. As mentioned in an HBR article, even giants like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and even Samsung have subscribed to the ‘open office’ design to increase a chance of people and ideas fusing.
In the UAE, this interior structure is seen quite often, including the corporate offices of GE, Honeywell, and of course, most advertising agencies. Why are offices increasingly subscribing to this fad? Because these open spaces fit for productive conversations between like-minded people are designed around the ol’ water-cooler concept. These increased interaction spaces are great for when productivity at your workplace is defined as idea generation and exploration [a Millenial concept].
Evidence from research tells us that this ‘open’ design is only half the equation to increase productivity. A majority of employees [90%], when surveyed about their work environment, mentioned a lack of privacy as one of the main concerns. These open spaces may be fit for constructing creativity together, but many would prefer secluded spaces they can retreat to put ideas in action distraction-free. An Office Workplace Productivity Study report in Forbes quotes that “86% of respondents prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity.”
According to HBR, ‘collision spaces’ like break rooms are important, but so are workstations.
“Higher engagement is typically accomplished not with open social space but with tight, walled-off workstations and adjacent spaces for small-group collaboration and interaction.”
While floor plans keep shifting and the jury decides the ideal office space for employees, for individuals, workspace design can be manipulated to increase your everyday productivity while lowering stress levels and conflict. Here’s how:
1. If you’re a multi-tasker, head to a quiet space for concentrated tasks [Less distraction]
Studies have shown that people who are habitual multi-taskers take more time to recover from distractions, so planting yourself in a corner might get your job done faster and more effectively.
2. Green up your desk [Less stress]
Research has shown that having plants in the interior of the office lowers stress levels, increases productivity and helps significantly when employees are assigned challenging tasks [Green calms your mind – even if it is just a picture of a green space].
3. If you’re placed in an open office space, invest in noise cancelling headphones [Less noise]
It’ll block out the irritating chatter of the occupants near you and help you focus on the task at hand.
4. Open that office window or get a lamp [Less stress]
Light is shown to be a great determinant of an occupant’s mood and comfort level in a room. Positively correlated, more light can help increase your task efficiency.
Tell us your thoughts – how does you workspace affect your productivity? What have you done to transform your little space?