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With the recent announcement of Facebook’s new open office, it is evident that open offices are becoming a modern reality. Research has found that leaving your cubicle for an open office has numerous benefits. What distinguishes modern workspace design from traditional offices are the metrics we use: quality is no longer measured only by cost per square foot, but in terms of increased efficiency and productivity. Thus, employers have to put their employees first and create the best environment for them to work. Open offices are a growing trend for companies like Facebook, Google, and Adobe. Should you consider it as well? If so, what are the factors to consider when designing or moving to a new open office?
New offices are spacious and provide different zones to boost productivity and creativity and enable encounters and conversations between colleagues from different departments and teams. Facilities such as bathrooms, coffee machines or games rooms, cleverly positioned, can bring people together and create surprising outcomes. Research suggests that encounters with people from outside the company are just as valuable for innovation. Moreover, aspects of the space itself such as the height of the ceiling and access to windows can raise productivity to a new level.
It is not always the work that changes; sometimes it is new tools that change the way we work. It is important to take the switch to working online into consideration when designing a perfect workspace. So while many of us now work online, offices should make it easy for employees to communicate face-to-face as well. Collaboration leads to innovation and increases satisfaction at work. Moreover, people who share a physical space are more likely to communicate virtually too. As a result, projects are also finished faster (Benjamin N. Waber et al.).
Despite the prevalence of white walls in traditional offices, the color white is not beneficial to productivity. It might be that our perception of white as sterile and pure makes us inclined to work in white settings, however this has been proved wrong. In fact, research shows that people that work in red offices make fewer mistakes than those in white offices. Furthermore, yellow design elements are associated with a creativity boost, while blue is best for achieving optimal productivity. The best solution is to use several colors at once. Create zones that stimulate different parts of the brain and gain the best results on all fronts!
Workplaces with a range of environments enable employees to work the way they want. A good examples of a liberating office policy would be to have no assigned desk policy. This enables employees to adjust their work environment to the task they are performing, thus improving efficiency. Ideally, one should be able to escape to a separate space when privacy is required and to share a desk with a team when collaborating on a shared project. Another example is openness to music in the workplace. A study shows that employees who can listen to the music they love perform better. Don’t implement too many rules for your employees, and trust that they know best how to perform their job.
Although tech giants and creative companies are eagerly switching to open offices, it is not all sunshine and rainbows. In some cases, employees who were dissatisfied with the new open office continue to be frustrated even six months after moving in. Therefore, take important aspects such as the noise policy in your office into consideration and ensure opportunities to escape to private quiet areas. However, creating an open office from scratch is costly and time-consuming. A good alternative may be to move into a coworking space where facility costs are shared.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all office, so make sure to move to a workplace that suits the needs of your employees and helps them achieve better results.
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