Years ago, pressures of rising commercial real estate prices prompted businesses to convert large, enclosed private offices to more compact, open workstations to maximize efficiencies. At the same time, as telecommuting allowed some employees to remain connected from anywhere, companies began allowing their staff to work remotely.
Therefore, the question presents itself: “What is the motivation to come into the office at all?”
Open office designs have their advantages when it comes to utilizing space efficiently, but they are far from perfect. According to a Huffington Post article, while employees sitting in open workstation environments have been found to “feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise,” they were actually damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and overall job satisfaction. “Compared with standard (more traditional) office setups, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation.” (Konnikova 2014)
Every organization wants its office to be a destination that allow teams to reach their greatest potential for success. Knowing that giving everyone his or her private office is often not a financial reality, and with open office plans having their pitfalls, how can office space be designed to foster maximum productively while being a preferred location for business?
An office space that will be a “destination” to your employees needs to have multiple choices for where work can be done, ushering in the newest model: the multi-environment workspace. Within your new office suite, consider the following places where your staff can work:
“The Living Room” Using comfortable furniture that has a residential and hospitality feel, give your employees a space where they can bring their laptops for an hour or two, or a place where they can have a conversation with their staff that won’t tie up conference rooms or create noise near people’s desks.
“The Phone Booths” Having plenty of private 1-2-person rooms for staff to take phone calls is an important alternative to the open office environment without taking up the space of a private office. This will minimize disruptions throughout the open office area.
“Home Base” Each employee needs a workstation to call his or her own and store their belongings. Progressive firms have reduced workstation size (as small as 2×4-foot work surfaces) to allow for more collaborative space.
“The Library” Create an enclosed room with multiple desks and enforce one important rule to those who come in: No talking.
By creating a mix of options for your team to have privacy, collaboration space, and quiet areas, you will craft an office that everyone will be excited about.
About the Author: Adam Felson is the founder of officemorph, a commercial project management firm that develops work spaces for startups, and handles lobby renovations and office relocations.