It’s not hard to see why various companies have rushed to widely implement large, open spaces in their workplaces. The “open office plan”, as this type of design is called, has often been chosen in an attempt to retain talent, increase exposure to expertise and spur creativity and innovation.
However, the drawbacks of this approach to workplace design go further than the overly bland look it can potentially produce. Ultimately, your office should be tailored – like a good suit…
Why has the open plan office become popular?
It’s tempting to think: “If they are doing it, it must be right, surely?” That can be an especially easy assumption to make when big-name organisations like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM are investing millions of dollars into redesigning their workspaces along these lines.
Those companies have jettisoned cubicles and traditional private offices in favour of large open spaces, with team spaces and pods set aside to facilitate exchanges on a smaller scale.
Referring to Facebook’s 430,000-square-foot open office design, the social media giant’s Chief People Officer claimed: “It really creates an environment where people can collaborate; they can innovate together”, adding: “There’s a lot of spontaneity in the way people bump into each other”.
Suit yourself: the importance of personalisation
However, even companies pursuing the open office design have allowed for adjustable furniture which can be moved and modified to account for an employee’s requirements and rapidly changing work demands, as a Harvard Business Review article attests.
This begins to shed light on the importance of carefully tweaking the workplace as necessary to ensure that people can work to their optimum productivity. This approach could help to counter documented hindrances of the open plan approach, including the distractions and lacking privacy and autonomy which collectively add up to undermine motivation and satisfaction in employees.
Research hints that this could indeed serve as an effective remedy. The Guardian has cited a survey of over a thousand office workers, with 85% admitting to having personalised their workplace. Of that proportion, 68% said that their overall attitude at work had improved as a result.
Consider creating more privacy for your workers
Think about it: if a suit is part of your office’s dress code, your workers might turn up looking similarly attired, but each of them may have approached a tailor to ensure that their suit fits just right – neither too tightly nor too loosely.
Similarly, you should resist trying to overly closely replicate a particular office plan just because it seems to have “worked” for a big-name company. Keep in mind that, according to a study mentioned by the Association for Psychological Science, employees lacking privacy could become more exhausted emotionally compared to employees in an office with four opaque walls and a door.Tailoring your office doesn’t have to entail curbing its level of aesthetic professionalism, either. Consider, for example, that the workers at the workplace design company Maris provide luxury office design ideas potentially capable of working surprisingly nicely for your own company.