Photo by Steelcase
As we move into the era of collaboration among teams and co-workers, open workplaces and benching for employees, are replacing fixed wall offices. While it is true, an open space plan does allow for more collaboration and communication in the workplace. Although 70% (International Facilities Management Association) of US workers go to offices with open floor plans, companies are beginning to acknowledge that this is not always the best use of space for getting work done. A few years ago, Forbes Magazine stated that “open work spaces are here to stay.” Ironically, the author relinquished that she was writing her article in a conference room to avoid the buzz of the open work space.
Create an agile work environment while increasing employee productivity and well-being by offering a variety of different rooms and spaces.
- Create areas that allow employees to find refuge away from the open work space. A strategic space plan will designate rooms that can be used as phone booths and quiet areas where an employee can focus without distractions. In a TED talk, Susan Cain noted that most workplaces are “designed mostly for extroverts and their need for lots of stimulation.” Remember to accommodate both introverts (quiet space) and extroverts.
- Create spaces for small group collaboration. These spaces don’t necessarily need to be a fixed room; creating balanced environments for privacy, interaction and collaboration increase employee productivity. Enclaves and small group spaces are showing up in very creative areas, ie. under staircases and odd shaped areas that can’t accomodate a traditional work area.
- Variety is the spice of life. To provide an extra boost of energy, designate rooms with standing desks, differing furnishings or natural lighting. Incorporating fun break areas with ping pong tables, video games, or other recreational activities help employees re-energize. According to a Steelcase global sample, empowering employees to choose where they want to work, dependent on the task at hand, are 88% more engaged in their work.