More and more companies are carrying out office renovations based on open workspace designs. According to a study by the International Facilities Management Association, 70 percent of American workers go to offices with open floor plans. But do these floor plans actually create a more productive work environment, or are they simply the latest trend in the evolution of office design? Studies show that companies with a sense of direction and greater purpose have happier, more dedicated workers and a higher overall efficiency level. The most successful workspace designs are a physical extension of a solid, well-written company culture. In the marketplace, no two companies are exactly alike. It follows that no two offices should be identical in design. The ideal floor plan should reflect the company’s mission statement by providing a place that workers can effectively carry out individual tasks as well as collaborative projects.
The Private Office
The separated corner room is not without its place. There are corporate climates in which leadership will realistically need privacy, especially when dealing with confidential information. How much separation is appropriate? It depends on the company. One solution is to designate silent workspace areas. It could take the form of a comfortable “library” with quiet zones or a “lab” intended for personal assignment time, uninterrupted by coworkers. By creating a quiet area, an office avoids permanent separation but still gains a sense of acoustic privacy. An office renovation project should reflect the needs of the team. If constant collaboration is essential to operations, there will be less need for private offices.
The Open Space
Initially seen as the solution to communication partitions, the “free office” is now experiencing criticism. It was meant to promote the exchange of ideas and strategy while fostering healthy interactions. This design, however, is also associated with unavoidable distractions. Knowing where these spaces belong during office renovations is essential. Some departments will benefit from this floor plan more than others. In some instances, walls can be protective barriers, aiding productivity for a team or an individual. Before beginning the remodeling process, a company should analyze their processes and needs to decide how much collaborative, open space they need.
The cubicle instills a false sense of privacy. Sometimes this can lead to higher noise levels because workers feel the freedom of a closed room even though they are in close proximity to their peers. Furthermore, studies have proven the negative health effects of low lighting and poor ventilation. Companies might not need to completely discount a cubicle-based design. Using cubicles as temporary work areas or including shorter partitions have proven to be practical solutions.
Great companies have clear plans and goals. Designing an office renovation with these goals in mind will optimize productivity and prevent the need for future remodeling. Team objectives should be at the heart of the workspace layout. With the right design that is based on logistical coordination, department interactions can greatly improve. A holistic culture extends even to floor plans.