The once clear roads and highways are now jam-packed with cars again as employees return to their office. Doors are reopened, businesses are resuming and silent offices that lay empty are now filled with chatter by mask clad workers. The sign of life returning to normal is apparent and the only indication of a pandemic looming in the background is that of the temperature checks at office building lobbies or tables that are spaced further apart than they were before.
The coronavirus pandemic has spurred businesses to think more critically about their office layouts. Perhaps the open plan with its aspiration of uniting the office wasn’t really the best environment for work after all. Besides the obvious point of transmission of diseases. The open office has had a bad reputation for being counter-productive and noisy. The close proximity of employees seating arrangements causes a plethora of distractions to the average executive that seated table to table with no divider in sight, reminiscent of high school libraries. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that addresses many of these problems: a work pod.
The Problem With Open Plan Offices
The basic logic behind the open offices is that tearing down physical barriers inspires communication and collective creativity. The idea isn’t new, open offices have been around since the 80’s. While great in theory,open plans actually create more issues than actually bridging communication gaps.
Lack Of Privacy
As we did away with cubicles and stripped down the barriers between workers, a new issue arose and the lack of privacy in an open plan office makes employees feel as if they are being watched constantly. A private phone call becomes an awkward situation and staff members don’t feel like they’re able to truly be productive when their monitors are on full display all the time. It is one thing to actually get your work done and another thing entirely to feel obligated to work harder or to put on airs to seem productive.
One of the worst disadvantages of open offices is the noise and distractions that are inherent in their design. Even with cubical dividers,users can’t help but overhear work conversations and the sounds of office machinery. In some cases, fellow employees listen to music, watch videos, and engage in personal chats on their mobile phones. Noisy offices can make businesses sound unprofessional to clients on the other end of a phone call.In-person meetings disrupt everyone around them, but it doesn’t always make sense to sign out a large conference room for just a few people.
Health & Safety
Although worries about COVID-19 are the most recent example of how open offices can be troublesome, winter cold and flu season during regular years make open work environments breeding grounds for shared germs. Coughing and sneezing, we now know, can expel viruses many feet away. And of course the noise of someone nearby with a cold is yet another distraction workers don’t need
How To Build A Good Open Office
Most companies opt for open offices because the cost per square foot is cheaper. But he said managers need to consider that the loss of privacy comes with a price too. Though humans like being social, past behavior studies show that humans have a fundamental desire for privacy, and impinging on that privacy can decrease workplace productivity. Important points to consider are accessibility and how noise travels within that space. By adding a few work pods in the floor plan, employees can opt to work in them when they require some peace of mind or need to make important calls.
While all offices are not created equally, employers can create workarounds to their existing plan to make the office more modular and flexible for their staff as they return to work. When employees are truly comfortable and happy with their work environment, they will be able to get their best and it will benefit the company in the long run.