With so much focus on work-life balance and job satisfaction, our craving for flexibility in our jobs has led to a shift in the way that we work. In turn the modern office looks a lot different to its predecessor with open plan, hot desking and collaborative workspaces fast becoming the flavour of the month.
On paper this approach is a win-win situation for employers trying to reduce desk vacancy rates, and employees trying to strike a better balance. In practice, however, this ‘one size fits all’ open office can have an undesirable effect on staff satisfaction and productivity, with increasing sound levels. Susan Cain in “Quiet” stated that “Exceptional performance depends not only on the groundwork. It also requires the right working conditions. And in contemporary workplaces, these are surprisingly hard to come by.”
What you might not realise is that all the elements in your office, especially soft furnishings, absorb sound that bounces around the room. Open plan offices often lack sound absorbing surfaces or built in walls, meaning that noise levels can far surpass sound levels in a traditional office. And noise does not equal zen like surroundings.
You might also find that there is also nowhere to escape to when you need to buckle down and focus; in fact, a recent survey reported that out of 10,500 workers, respondents were losing up to 86 minutes a day on average to distractions.
Other than getting a very sturdy pair of headphones to ward off these distractions, small adjustments to the initial design can make a real difference without sacrificing the look and feel of an airy, open plan space. Private areas to take phone calls, have meetings or even simple desk screen will be hugely beneficial to help those struggling with the lack of privacy, and help with noise levels.
For a successful work environment, ensure that you factor in how your team want to work and give them a choice of workspaces to suite different tasks. The most valuable person you need to impress is the end user, so make sure that you find out how they want to work and what they value the most in their workspace.
Check out some of the furnishings you can decorate your office in to ensure its a peaceful and zen space that everyone can work productively in.
1. Acoustic cactus
6. Baudot strings