Over the past few decades, the functionality and appearance of the modern office has evolved in several ways. Workspaces have shifted from artificial cubicle farms to a much more open and moveable design. In the last five years, some offices have even implemented recreational elements such as ping pong and foosball tables in the aim of boosting morale among their employees. As the physical makeup of the modern office continues to evolve, let’s consider how change can affect productivity.
Implementing a quality workspace design is an important element for the success of a business as it can lead to a more productive work environment. In a study researching the importance of office design on productivity, ”97% of professionals reported that their current workplace design drained their ability to focus.” Other outcomes of poor workplace design included feelings of stress and low morale. From this information we can conclude that providing office styles conducive to employee productivity is vital.
A myth of the modern era is that an open floor plan with plenty of employees filling the empty space will lead to greater collaboration and a sense of community. Research indicates the opposite is true. A completely open office design creates a lack of privacy which often results in defensive behaviors and strained relationships amongst employees. Recent studies on this phenomenon have found that “…open office employees today spend an astounding 73% less time engaging in face-to-face interaction” which could very well be the result of underlying tension. Additionally, surveyed professionals have associated working in an open office with increased feelings of stress and fatigue which can lead to increased absenteeism. Oppositely, being too closed off from colleagues can raise other issues. Cubicle occupied offices or closed office spaces neglect to promote interaction altogether and can hinder the sharing of ideas amongst employees. Therefore, creating an office environment with an “open” feel to it while also including some partitioning for privacy can be beneficial for a harmonious workplace.
As an employer, it is important to ask your employees directly what they would like to see updated around the office. Afterall, satisfied employees lead to a greater number in years of loyalty to your company.
Providing the opportunity for employees to discuss what they would like to see will not only allow them to feel heard but seeing their own ideas directly influencing where they spend much of their time will produce a sense of fulfillment at your company. Some of the most vocalized ideas for office make-up included “…cited places to gather and collaborate (28%), private spaces for focused work (30%) and visual partitioning to prevent distractions (30%) …”. Additionally, in a report published by The Property Group, Corporate Property Advisors and Negotiators, the majority of professionals surveyed expressed high priority for feeling safe in the workplace, having access to air conditioning, and modern kitchen facilities.
Knowing this now it comes down to practical implementation. Not every office space is ready to have a full renovation or can even afford the possibility. However, taking the time to designate specific focus, collaboration, or rest areas will help the employees feel like they have a chose in how they can operate in their day-to-day process.
Even with the functionality and appearance changes of the modern office, the standard theme is encouraging high productivity with your workers. Areas set aside for collaboration or private focused work can be a simple change to help improve the environment, but ultimately, it’s how people feel. If the employee feels they are valued, and their needs are considered then they will want to work hard and produce quality work. Not every office or company is the same, so reach out to your employees and ask how they feel they can best be productive.
How Your Office Space Impacts Employee Well-Being (forbes.com)
What Is the Relationship Between Office Design & Productivity?– Zenbooth