We can’t leave Allwork.Space out of this list. Last year we published an article highlighting findings from a study that concluded that open plan offices are damaging its workers’ ability to concentrate and be productive.
What originally began as a collaboration and productivity-infused dream has now evolved into a privacy-lacking, distracting reality.
It’s no wonder the open plan office is under fire.
Workers “tuning out” of their surroundings
A study carried out last year found that open plan workspaces actually decrease face-to-face interaction. A survey, carried out by Unispace, found that increased noise and lack of privacy and private areas are the most common complaints associated with open environments. This has led workers to regress from collaboration and tune out of their surroundings.
But, does this really mean the end of the open office?
Not necessarily, or at least it shouldn’t.
Open plan workspaces are a great tool for professionals when they don’t need to carry out focus work. Moreover, being surrounded by constant buzz and interaction (to a certain extent) can help motivate people to work and fulfill tasks.
The main issue with open plan work areas seems to be when there’s lack of choice and options; especially when professionals need privacy and quiet areas to carry out their work. This doesn’t mean companies and workplace designers need to go back to cubicles and walls.
Sometimes all people need is visual privacy. Being able to see a clear divide between where they’re sitting and where the others are can do the trick. This can be achieved by using movable whiteboards or partitions that individuals can move around as needed; or by a table that doubles as a whiteboard.
Noise is the most common complaint among open plan users, so it follows that one way to make open offices more bearable is by reducing noise. Plants are great at this, however there are also acoustic solutions you can easily implement. Acoustic panels can be used for decoration in the walls or they can also be hung from the ceiling. Also think about using sound absorbing materials and incorporating them into your overall workplace design.
Sometimes people simply need a bit of peace and quiet in order to be productive. For open plan areas to work, you need to have private areas to which people can escape, as well. These private areas can come in the form of small or large meeting rooms, private offices, phone booths, and pods.