There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like open-plan offices, and those who hate them.
Open-plan offices have been around since 1906 when architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Larkin Administration Building in New York. Besides other innovations like air conditioning and built-in desk furniture, this workspace was also open-plan, with few walls.
Today, almost 75% of all offices in the USA are designed with an open-desk plan. From small startups to large corporations and governmental institutions, offices without walls seem to be everywhere.
The open-space office trend was kind of inevitable. In the times when the cost of an office space can be up to $595 per square foot, many employers prefer open spaces to save money – you can fit more people into one wall-less room when compared to several smaller rooms.
In the meantime, the majority of employees are not happy with the fact that they have to work with tens of other people by their side. And we can understand them.
Open-Plan Offices Work Great…In Theory
Sometimes, removing walls really does help improve productivity. The co-founder of Fit Small Business Marc Prosser believes that open-floor plan discourages people from spending half their day on non-work related activities.
In wall-less offices, everyone can get a glimpse into what others are doing, and no one wants to be caught playing ”Tetris” or ”solitaire” all day long.
Though, the main argument for open-plan offices is still that they encourage collaboration and communication between team members.
One of such teams are lead by Josh Rubin – he’s the CEO of Post Modern Marketing. ”Since we converted our team to an open-plan area, we have seen engagement and cross-training improve dramatically,” he says.
Josh believes that by putting the teams together they’ve opened a better opportunity to knowledge-sharing, as well as helped teams to work more efficiently – they don’t have to repeat the same thing over and over just because people are split up in different rooms.
While executives praise open-concept spaces, employees seem to be on a different page. Look:
In a survey by Oxford Economics, 53% of respondents said that open-concept offices are noisy and that reduces their productivity and satisfaction.
A different study by Karlstad University in Sweden discovered that employees who work in open-plan offices are less satisfied with their jobs.
Another survey by The Creative Group found that employees blame their open-plan workspace for their low productivity.
Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.
If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.
The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.
If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.
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