Creating a productive workplace is a challenge for even the most brilliant business owners and office managers. In the middle of the 20th century, designing open offices seemed like the solution. But office decision makers have come to realize that more dynamic workplaces are far more preferable.
One of the new design styles companies are interested in is called the “agile office.” An agile office environment is one that caters to multiple departments, individual privacy and team collaboration within a single design. This office setting combats many of the limitations of open offices while still providing areas where workers have easy access to their colleagues.
Inadequate Privacy Hinders Productivity
Open offices were invented to encourage collaboration. Unfortunately, there is a compromise between collaborative atmospheres and privacy. Overlooking the importance of worker privacy is detrimental to overall productivity productivity, according to a University of Sydney study of over 40,000 office workers. Around 40% of employees felt the lack of privacy hurt their ability to finish tasks effectively and in a timely manner.
Office Noise Is Too Distracting
Setting up an open office layout inevitably leads to a noisier work environment. Studies show that workers prefer environments with sound levels between 48 and 52 dB. Two people having a conversation can create noise levels exceeding 130 dB, which is far too distracting when trying to focus on work.
Offering your workers a quiet space, which all agile office style provide, is a pragmatic solution. Here your staff can focus, clear their thoughts and work with greater efficiency.
Providing Too Much Stimulation for More Introverted Employees
Open offices are typically designed with more extroverted employees in mind. Introverted employees often feel more uncomfortable in an open environment, which takes its toll on their stress levels. Even extroverted employees that are closer to the center of the E-I spectrum might feel overwhelmed by the stimulation.
Studies have shown that just by offering staff a place where they can escape and find some alone time, their stress levels dissipate – whether they actually use that space or not.
Causing Employees to Shut Out Potentially Meaningful Engagement Opportunities
Open offices might be structured for the purpose of encouraging employee engagement. However, they often have the exact opposite outcome. Employees may feel so overburdened by the number of people around them that they start shutting out opportunities to build stronger relationships. They might begin to take their coworkers for granted and not make an effort to engage with them.
The Benefits of Adding Secluded Environments to Your Office
Developing an agile workplace can mitigate many of the problems associated with open offices.
Some employees have a greater yearning or tolerance for noise than others. Managers designing workplaces must keep this in mind at all time. Workplaces can be designed differently for each team, rather than using the same, company-wide open office layout. In one example, a company that implemented an agile office setting did the following:
- One section of the office was divided up into multiple workspaces so employees could seek more privacy.
- In another area, employees were given shared tables, which had comfortable seating arrangements and promoted collaboration
- Another place was created where staff could retreat to smaller rooms if they wanted to have a quiet meeting
- Office booths or pods were added for workers who wanted to completely block out office distractions
The format was originally used in the IT department, but the template was copied to other departments later on. Certain elements were tweaked to fit the preferences of each team.
Agile Workplaces Are the Solution to the Challenges Created by Open Offices
Brainstorming is a vital part of any workplace but formulating new ideas isn’t easy when coworkers are having loud conversations or constantly interrupting. Focusing on your work is even difficult with the addition of visual distractions, which are omnipresent in office office settings.
As a CEO or office manager, building breakout areas will make it easier for employees to engage in deep thinking and be creative. Staff can also retreat to these areas when they need a quiet space to relieve stress or take important calls without having to deal with background noises.
Open office layouts seemed like a great idea several decades ago. CEO’s and office managers need to understand their downsides, many limitations and begin to seek alternatives. Agile workplaces are better for productivity and building employee relationships. As office decision makers look to the future, how they choose to design their office will affect their bottom line and employee well being.
For more information on creating an agile workspace, visit Zenbooth, an office phone booth manufacturer based in Berkley, California who are leaders in creating privacy in open spaces.
At Advanced Furniture Solutions, we want to give you the most out of our services and best customer experience possible. Our large range of manufacturers gives us the opportunity to give our clients their dream space. Give us a call at (904) 398-0807, contact us online, or visit our showroom on 9452 Philips Highway, Suite 7, Jacksonville, FL 32256. Hours: Monday-Friday, 08:00-5:00. Saturday 08:00 – 2:00.
Let our experts assist you in developing practical and effective office solutions that will get you on the right track to improved workplace wellness, productivity, and inspiration.
Jacksonville’s only Kimball Select Dealer and named as one of the Fastest 50 Growing Businesses by the Jacksonville Business Journal in 2016, 2017 & 2018, Advanced Furniture Solutions is a premier woman-owned office furniture and commercial flooring store in Jacksonville, Florida. A certified 8M, Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB), AFS has been providing sustainable and affordable office solutions to organizations of all shapes and sizes in the Jacksonville area for over 20 years.