Over the past decade, our obsession with the open plan office has well and truly skyrocketed. Small businesses everywhere have been following in Google, Facebook and eBay’s footsteps, knocking down the dividers and grouping people together in a desperate bid to save space, encourage collaboration, and increase teamwork. All of this sounds great, especially when you throw in some elaborate and colourful décor and replace stairs with slides.
Jokes aside, even in the most creative of small businesses and large companies alike, there is mounting evidence to suggest that open plan office designs alone simply are not the answer to increasing motivation and productivity amongst employees. In fact, they could even be stifling any hopes of the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg’s ideas being heard.
A 2013 study conducted by the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem for them, and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy.
These results should be ringing alarm bells for those offices which are guilty of having little to no private space for employees, and surprisingly, the factor of noise distractions and lack of visual privacy is just the tip of the iceberg. This is because open plan offices are inherently designed to accommodate a particular type of person, and could be extremely detrimental for others. Here’s how.
Many individuals working in the creative and media industries such as writers, artists, designers, developers, or anyone for that matter, value private space more than any other. Not because they are anti-social or against collaborating with others, but because they have introverted tendencies, meaning that they work at their absolute best in low key environments, where they can organise their thoughts free from distractions.
Many of history’s great imaginaries, including the likes of J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Steve Wozniak and Steven Spielberg to name a few, all produced their best works in private environments, far away from the hustle and bustle of team-working tables and breakout areas. Maybe it is time then that we designed our offices to cater for all job roles and personalities, and aim to prioritise the creation of great ideas over available Sq ft. Introducing a separate ‘private’ space in an open plan office is one way of having the best of both.
This sponsored post was brought to you by ULTIMATE Office, creating intelligent, high quality & visually stunning interiors for offices, hotel and leisure, education and healthcare facilities, on time and on budget.