Over the last several decades, office spaces have changed a lot. From the small, private offices favoured by companies during early part of last century to the open plan offices with row after row of cubicles, it seems we have tried almost every design in existence.
The truly open-plan office is the most fashionable layout at the moment, and it’s easy to understand why. Open plan offices are inexpensive to install, take up less space per person than a traditional cubicle design, and look nice to interviewees when they take a tour of the “relaxed working environment”. Unfortunately, open plan offices are far from productive to work in. Here’s why:
The open plan office is simply full of distractions. One thing that many designers forget is that there is a big difference between having access to your team members for the purposes of collaboration, and not being able to get away from them, ever. Open plan offices expose you to the sights, sounds and smells of your co-workers all day, every day. This is no need for this. A little privacy-even if that comes from a small cubicle-style privacy wall, is a good thing.
Too much clutter
Many open plan office designs look like the spiritual successor to a modern Swedish kitchen, with clean, curved furniture, shiny metal accessories, and not a single document or piece of stationery in sight in the show room. Sadly, the real world doesn’t look like that. Tackle your document clutter by investing in simple storage solutions.
Fluorescent lighting is a common migraine trigger, and many other kinds of office lighting cause glare and irritation for people who use computers a lot. Talk to your employees and find out what sort of preferences they have for lighting. The right kind of lighting choice will greatly increase productivity.
Large, open office spaces look bright and airy, but if you don’t make an effort to keep the air quality in the building high it will quickly become stale and stifling. Poor air quality is a major contributor to sick building syndrome. There are four main factors to consider when it comes to air quality:
Ideally, you should keep a constant temperature throughout the day, with fresh air circulating (through windows or air conditioning) as much as possible. Fit filters to the air conditioning to remove bacteria, and aim for a comfortable level of humidity. Humidity levels of between 40 and 50 percent are recommended for office buildings.
If you are re-designing your office building, try to give each employee some private space, free from the sights and sounds of their colleagues. Leave some space for large, open plan meeting rooms so that face to face collaboration is still a viable option. Give your employees plenty of options and trust them to choose the option that makes them the most productive. A happy employee will do what is best for the team.
Written by B. Frisby for Whitefields Document Storage.
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