As business strive to reduce expenses and appeal to multiple generations of people, the open floor plan has been the most recent trend in office-layout and design.
The open floor plan is meant to encourage collaboration among employees and establish a modern feel. But when it comes to productivity, it’s important to remember that not everyone performs well under the same conditions. Fewer private offices can make for a louder, more disruptive work environment.
In a recent article published in the Midwest Real Estate Journal, founder and president of Chicago-based Rightsize Facility Performance Mason Awtry, encouraged businesses to listen to their employees to create an office space that will work for multiple personality types, rather than just trying to follow a trend.
The reason is that there is a disparity between those who like the more traditional work space and those who thrive in office space without much in the way of offices, cubicles or privacy.
And from what Awtry can see, the walls are coming down.
“The taller-paneled work station is few and far between these days,” Awtry said. “There is a deliberate push to panel-less work spaces. But we have seen folks who do want that paneled system for at least some level of privacy. The collaborative environment is disruptive for some folks. Different people work and learn in different ways.”
It’s important that businesses keep in mind that certain employees will blossom in an open workspace - others might not have as easy as a time. And there is no question that workspace has been shrinking. Back in the day, workstations used to by roughly 8 x 8 or even 12 x 12. Today, most workers won’t see a work area larger than 6 x 6 or 5 x 5.
One thing that the smaller workstation impacts is overall footprint. Smaller workstations mean lower real estate expenses. So if cost is a concern, make sure to give employees in an open layout access to private meeting rooms where they can make phone calls, conduct small group meetings and work in a quiet setting.
Because, according to Awtry, when all is said and done, it’s about the employees.
“In our opinion, as an organization that touches 300-plus office spaces a month? The furniture at the end of the day can’t force collaboration among people,” Awtry said. “It can help to enable collaboration. But the human element is going to outweigh the furniture every time.”
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