The open office trend has swept the nation; today almost 70% of U.S. workers are employed to work in an open office space. While these spaces offer great natural lighting and a cool, non-claustrophobic vibe, they definitely have their downfalls.
Here’s why you may NOT want to create an open space workplace for your employees.
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Open Workspace Dilemma 1 - Focus
According to Gensler’s 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey, only 1 in 4 U.S. workers are employed in an “optimal” workplace environment. Here’s what they found:
- 53% of employees are disturbed by others when trying to focus
- 42% of employees use makeshift solutions to block out distractions in the workplace
- 77% of employees prefer quiet when they need to focus
With 70% of our workforce employed in open space work environments, you can imagine these privacy and focus needs are not being met.
When employees are distracted by interruptions, they make 50% more mistakes and take 2x as long to finish the task at hand.
The never-ending distractions offered in an open space work environment also result in a LACK OF:
- Worker engagement
What makes the open office space even less appealing? The fact that, not only are we losing our walls as barriers, we’re losing our space as a barrier as well.
- In 2010 each office employee had roughly 225 square feet of space to themselves.
- That nice little space is predicted to fall to 100 square feet/person by 2017.
So what are workers doing to make up for the absolute loss of privacy? They’re sticking in the earbuds and tuning out the world.
Open Workspace Dilemma 2 - Creativity
One of the most popular arguments in favor of open space offices is the idea that it stimulates creativity and teamwork.
However, that may not be the case.
Open offices can in fact lead to annoyance and resentment among coworkers as they have no place to take refuge, and it can definitely limit creativity among introverts.
Some of the most creative people in our world are introverts at the core.
And what do introverts need? Solitude.
New and innovative thoughts and ideas come from unique individuals who are given the freedom and autonomy to work in the space of their choice – often a comfortable space of their own. This is where they have their “out of the box” breakthroughs.
Employees tend to feel like they are being “watched” in an open office environment.
While being “watched” might encourage employees to “follow the rules,” it does little to promote their freedom and individuality.
If creativity and innovation is your highest priority, then you should seriously consider providing your employees with some solitude.
The Best Solution for Your Workplace
A workspace that allows for casual interactions, professional meetings, and private distraction-free spaces.
What do today’s leading workplaces have?
- Individual offices and/or cubicles
- Private conference rooms
- Casual cafés
- Lounge areas
- Extra space for miscellaneous needs
This type of environmental variety fosters creativity, collaboration, learning, socializing, and high-quality work.