Recently, there has been a move away from open plan offices as workers have become increasingly discontented with their working spaces.
The open plan office layout was originally considered beneficial as it was break away from confinement and allowed workers to communicate with each other more freely. It was also favourable to employers as it lowered the cost of increasing the work space.
Open Plan Problems
People complained that they didn’t get any work done in an open plan layout. Some of the negative implications were noisy phone calls, constant distraction and a severe lack of productivity. It was found that people talked more, but a lot less about work-related discussion points and many employers found themselves having to continue their work at home because they had not completed it at work.
Research found that open plan offices actually began to damage employees’ memories as constant distraction and the potential to talk meant workers didn’t have the chance to offload memories; information is more easily retained when a person is focused and sat in the same spot.
The open plan layout has also been criticised for being bad for your health. Relationships with colleagues are far more visible and continuing – there is nowhere to hide if an argument has just taken place or if there is negative tension between yourself and others. Also, there is often no ownership of a desk, meaning a worker must rush to get to a seat that someone else may take, meaning extra stress in the morning.
New Office Ideology
When tasked with developing a creative design scheme that enhanced productivity and well-being, companies have started to look away from an office where everyone can interact constantly. In work with AXA, a stunning office in Central Glasgow was created with this new ideology in mind, which ensured that space utilisation was high, but the workplace was still a happy and productive environment.
However, in most recent designs it was still considered important to have some communal areas. In Central Glasgow, the office was built as a combination of collaborative meeting places, breakout areas, informal meeting booths, agile working spaces and traditional work stations. It is important not to get rid of open plan aspects completely, as open plan meeting stations were found to still be useful as places to talk and generate ideas.
People were unhappy with the previous layout, but it was discovered that the new design left staff members feeling motivated, inspired and using the alternative collaboration settings as if they were born in them.
Room for Ideas
Companies still want aspects of the open plan area as they do inspire collaboration and the generation of useful ideas, but the individual, more private spaces help the work ethic. People need a space that’ll support them physically and mentally, with the opportunity to discuss ideas and communicate still there. Nevertheless, the area has now become an option that people can decide whether to pick or not. Everyone works in a different way and a combination of different office work spaces allows a section for varied individuals to work in.
Offices are starting to have more quiet areas and eventually the separated will overtake the open spaces. The move towards a more flexible office plan is far more suitable for a balance between hard work ethic and a calm working environment.