Open-plan working originally evolved to address the communication issues inherent in cellular offices. The concept is effective when it is one element in the crucial mix of different environments.
In today’s agile workplace, technology, mobility and work styles can give rise to isolation and exclusion. It is therefore essential to create core environments where colleagues are close by and communication is central. This prompts natural opportunities to discuss, create and collaborate.
Collaboration directly impacts the effectiveness of teams and can positively influence the outcome of tasks and projects. Having access to collaborative workspaces enables people to switch where they work depending on the task in hand and with whom they need to engage.
Creating adaptable spaces that are conducive to information sharing can build stronger networks both within and outside traditional team structures. It can also generate more productive projects and ideas whilst allowing people to work and make themselves accessible.
Whilst communication and collaboration between employees is key, the noise and buzz generated by open-plan office designs can have the opposite effect, distracting employees and significantly reducing productivity. Having to tolerate noise to get work done can also increase stress levels.
Creating quiet zones away from the general office, with different types of flexible furniture, affords people private, head-down time to focus on particularly demanding or deadline-driven tasks. It also has a positive effect on people’s overall productivity and personal wellbeing.
The needs and working styles of a multi-generational workforce vary significantly and require a workplace culture that can accommodate these differing requirements. Whilst open-plan offices promote collaboration and communication, they can be distracting to those who need thinking time and space.
Establishing quiet zones that provide calm, distraction-free areas for relaxation and creative thinking can improve overall performance and productivity. It also allows people to escape, at least for a short while, from the normal working environment and restore emotional balance.
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