Where you work mattersWhere do you work? A better question may be, where do you work best? What boosts your productivity and what kills it? Are you and your employees completely satisfied with the physical environment of your current workspace?
For most people, the answer is no. There’s a chatty co-worker who sits right next to you. Your cubicle is too small and makes you feel claustrophobic. Or maybe, you are easily distracted in an open office space.
The workspace shapes productivity, job satisfaction, and even company culture. That makes it an important issue for employees and employers alike. Today, I share how our workplace is evolving.
Open up your space
The trend in workspace design is clear: open floor plan. Over the course of the last couple decades, many companies shifted their office plans to reflect this popular design. The transition from cellular (think cubicle) offices to open floor plan offices works well for companies happy to cut down the costs of floor space. However, additional benefits of open floor plan offices include more flexibility and movement, encouragement of communication and collaboration between and within teams, and increased interactions between employees.1
Despite the popularity of open floor plans, there are hidden costs that affect employee productivity and happiness. Employees within such work spaces can easily be overstimulated.1 Because of open space, noise and visual stimulation travel. That can distract from work and increase stress as well. Lack of privacy can also be detrimental for the productivity of introverted individuals, who crave more alone time and may feel their energy deplete because of constant interactions.1
Furthermore, other factors, like age, may affect your perception and productivity at a certain type of workspace. For example, research on Gen Y “millennials” indicate their perceptions of open floor plan offices are different compared to baby boomers or Gen X.2 Individuals from generation Y not only view the open floor plan offices more positively but are also more accepting of the negative factors, viewing them as trade-offs.
For instance, millennials frequently multitask and are more likely to prioritize socializing and ease of communication. This makes them a better fit for open floor plan offices than older generations. As more and more millennials enter the workforce, it will be important to cater to their needs and wants.
What does the future of workspace look like?
Since September of last year, I’ve utilized a new type of workspace. This one specifically is called Mod in Phoenix, Arizona. Mod offers a novel workspace model known as collaborative (or coworking) space. Coworking space is a new form of open plan office where physical space is provided for workers that are usually not affiliated with one another.3
Coworking space is designed to meet the mobile professional’s need for a place to work, away from the distractions of coffee shops and homes, while still accessing networking and social opportunities. It is inexpensive compared to leasing offices, connected enough for people to bounce ideas off of each other, and can provide a platform for cooperation and collaboration.3 Especially with the increase of remote working and freelancing, coworking spaces are a convenient alternative to the traditional workspace.
Not one floor plan fits all
The key to finding the best workspace for yourself and your employees comes down to flexibility and tailoring to the individual. After all, you’re the one who knows best where you can work most productively. I strongly believe that if employees are given the choice between a cellular, enclosed office and a more shared, open office, they will be able to cater to their own needs and find what works best for them. This can directly correlate with increased productivity of each individual, and lead to overall company/organization productivity. As well, employees are more likely to be happy.
Physical workspace is evolving fast
I am excited to see where the future of workspace takes us! As an update, I moved to a new workspace that provides flexibility and options in other cities. This new model is the future and allows for enormous collaboration and opportunities for growth.
1. Davis, M. Leach, D., and Clegg, C. (2011). The “The Physical Environment of the Office: Contemporary and Emerging Issues.” International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 26(1), 193-237.
2. Rasila, H., and Rothe, P. (2012). A Problem is a Problem is a Benefit? Generation Y Perceptions of Open-plan Offices.” Property Management. 30(4), 362-375.
3. Spinuzzi, C. (2012). Working Alone Together Coworking as Emergent Collaborative Activity. Journal of Business and Technical Communication. 26(4), 399-441.