The open-office space is a trend in workplaces, seemingly synonymous with a hip culture and cutting-edge work environment. But it might not be conducive to allowing employees to perform their best.
Michael O. Church, in an article for Quora and Fortune.com, calls open-plan office spaces a “Little Brother state (and) even for those who ought to have nothing to hide, a surveillance state is an anxiety state.” Though open plans are inexpensive and flexible for quickly growing companies, they’re “murderous for any job that requires creativity or concentration,” he writes. “Really, if you want someone to perform creative or intellectually intense work, you have to give that person privacy,” Church wrote.
Reports of the demise of non-open configurations are greatly exaggerated, wrote Jacob Morgan for Forbes, who describes the office space as “re-emerging.” Statistics in a recent report compiled by commercial real estate company CBRE back this up, noting that U.S. office investment is at a seven-year high at $119 billion. Employers must “create environments where people actually want to show up,” Morgan continued. “Companies are leveraging their physical environment as a new strategic competitive advantage.”
Drew Hendricks, in an article for Inc.com, suggests creating spaces that promote workplace harmony and introduce variety without being distracting. He recommends allowing workers to break out of their routines and the opportunity to work in a variety of settings within your company. “Create a space that combines standing desks with comfortable couches and enclaves for individual work, then encourage employees to move around throughout the day as their work needs change,” he wrote.
Morgan seconds this idea and reports it’s being implemented in modern workplaces around the country. “Organizations might have an area for open spaces, another space with modern cubes, an area for individual and private space, a coffee shop-like environment [and] conference rooms,” he wrote. “They provide multiple means of getting work done that cater to any preference versus assigning and dictating one style of physical space.”
Employers should remember workspaces provide a foundation allowing their employees to excel. “[They] must enable multiple ways of working through spaces that cater to a diverse set of employees’ needs and expectations,” Morgan wrote. “As work-life integration continues to increase, we will bring our work lives home and our personal lives to work. Leaders must ask themselves, ‘Do we have a space where people want to bring their lives to?’”