Ideal Office Design Trends: A Flexible Space between Collaboration & Privacy
The cubicle may have a reputation it doesn’t deserve. Business journalists still refer to them using Douglas Coupland’s Generation X term: veal fattening pens.
And really, the open concept office never worked as well for real tech start-ups or independent ad agencies, as they did for those kinds of firms that appeared in movies and on TV.
According to research released by 360° Magazine, the result of our flipping between the extremes of cubicles and open-concept offices has left us with a privacy crisis at the office. So what are some ideal office design trends for 2015?
“Throughout the world, too much interaction and not enough privacy has reached crisis proportions, taking a heavy toll on workers’ creativity, productivity, engagement and wellbeing,” says the Steelcase research.
Office design trends toward more collective spaces and more team togetherness at the office isn’t inspiring more of the collaboration that drives innovation. Instead, it’s depriving us of the time we need to focus, concentrate and think deeply: private activities that result in greater employee engagement and higher productivity.
Unfortunately, the answer to the problem isn’t to herd us back into cubicles with the illusion of some privacy.
“The need for privacy sometimes—at work as well as in public—is as basic to human nature as is the need to be with others,” said Donna Flynn, Director of the WorkSpace Futures research group at Steelcase. “A key takeaway from our study is that the open plan isn’t to blame any more than reverting to all private offices can be a solution. There is no single type of optimal work setting. Instead, it’s about balance. Achieving the right balance between working in privacy and working together is critical for any organization that wants to achieve innovation and advance.”
When the Steelcase research focused on only the 11% of workers who reported being highly-satisfied with their work environments, the vast majority said that satisfaction was based on key qualities:
- They can concentrate easily
- They can express their ideas and share them in freedom
- They can work in teams without being interrupted
- They can choose a different area of the office to work in based on the demands of their current task
- They feel calm and relaxed at the office
- Their company cultures foster a sense of belonging
What’s behind the feelings of the 89% of workers who aren’t highly satisfied with their office space and what can be done about it?
“A lot of businesses are now struggling with the balance of private and open spaces. There’s mounting evidence that the lack of privacy is causing people to feel overexposed in today’s workplaces and is threatening people’s engagement and their cognitive, emotional and even physical wellbeing,” Flynn told 360° Magazine. “Companies are asking questions like, ‘Have we gone too far toward open plan… or not done it right? What’s the formula? What kind of a workplace should we be creating?”
“The manufacturers & dealers who are able to customize a workstation, or an individual’s immediate work environment to achieve the required ‘balance’ between open/collaborative and private spaces, will be the most successful,” says Joanne Lytwyn, President of Envirotech Office Systems. “At Envirotech, we work with our customers to understand their design, budget and delivery needs, and then offer up solutions that integrate these needs into “customized solutions” that includes remanufactured, new, or a combination of both.”
Remanufactured workstations offer a wide range of configurations to meet the height and posture requirements of specific individuals. This protects workplace health and wellness, and improves productivity. At the same time, components can be added, or removed, from each station to provide a greater degree of flexibility between private space for deep concentration and focus, and collaborative options for small teams to meet and work together at different points throughout the day or during production cycles. Remanufactured office furniture is a cost effective solution that offers a variety of configurations to meet privacy requirements of any office.
Flexible, movable components are clearly the way forward in creating office spaces that are neither too open and noisy to allow for clear thinking, or too closed and stuffy to allow for innovative collaboration and team problem solving.
Do you have the ideal office with the right balance of privacy & collaboration? We can help evaluate your current office design and offer solutions. Contact one of our workspace consultants today