When picturing a modern, hip office, you might imagine an espresso bar, foosball tables and an energy not seen at cubicle-laden workplaces. While these types of amenities might seem cool at first glance, when the office turns into a full-blown pub at 3 p.m., it can get a bit distracting.
It’s clear that workplaces across the workforce are looking to create a more open environment to reduce costs and improve productivity, but these trends are sometimes creating the opposite effect.
A 2018 Harvard Business School study that looked at employees from two companies before and after their offices were redesigned to remove spatial boundaries found that face-to-face interactions declined by 70%.
This is likely due to poor design and companies hoping to fit as many people in as little space as possible. Developer Sir Stuart Lipton, compared open offices with tight packed desks to “battery chicken farms.”
In addition to density issues, many companies require their workers to share desks, which removes the ability for employees to have a work “home.”
Additionally, hot desks, open ceilings and hardwood floors are the perfect concoction for increasing noise volume in a space, creating an even more distracting environment.
All of this does not mean that open spaces should be written off. Instead, designers should keep in mind the needs of all workers in order to enhance the workplace experience for everyone. This can include using acoustic panelling or soft furnishings to absorb noise, as well as offering private areas for those who wish to work in a more quiet environment.