A research from Unispace, the global design firm, has revealed that the noise and distraction coming from open plan workplaces are preventing employees from focusing on tasks that require high levels of concentration and minimum disruption. The global study of working practices and workplace design included more than 11,000 workers.
15% of the respondents said that noise was the primary cause of inefficiency during working hours, a number that has risen by 4% in the last 12 months. Other factors included the lack of quiet areas (13%), the lack of privacy (9%), and the temperature and air quality in the office (7%).
“Our research shows that the vast majority of our time at work is based on the need to ‘focus’ — more than 60% of the working day,” said Simon Pole, Unispace Global Director, Design. “The workplace has changed radically in the last few years, but it may have gone too far now. Collaboration is obviously a central tenet of many modern spaces and in this environment, creating a fusion of ideas and socialisation is key. But for the majority of everyday business tasks, workers need space for focus, calm and solitude.”
The research also found that 60% of the average day is devoted to individual task focused work, while 25% was dedicated to collaboration and 7% to socialising. The participants indicated that even routine tasks, such as filing, creative work, and training, take up more time (10%) than collaborative tasks such as group meetings, presentations, and audio conferences.
The most popular type of workspace (31%) is the open plan offices. “Open, collaborative work environments promised us increased employee performance, higher levels of productivity, happier employees and happier CFOs — as these environments were typically more efficient,” explained Albert De Plazaola, Unispace Global Principal, Strategy.
However, there needs to be more thought put into how to elevate the experience of the employees, considering the type of jobs they do. “For example, progressive workplace designs for social media or tech companies may not be appropriate or culturally suitable for professional services firms. Similarly, napping pods and zen lounges may do wonders for overworked software engineers, but would miss the mark entirely if placed in the office of a conservative management consulting firm,” concluded De Plazaola.