With tech giants like Google and Facebook embracing the idea, the open plan office has garnered a lot of attention lately. The problem is that while advocates have been singing its praises, employees have mostly been singing the blues. So, who’s right? And maybe just as importantly; is there a middle ground to be had that could perhaps satisfy everyone involved?
First, who’s right here? Are open plan offices the productivity engine that will drive the 21st century economy to unheard of heights? Or are they the place good workers go to slowly become unhappy, unproductive workers? Well, according to a white paper over on architectureanddesign.com.au that studied people who currently work in open plan offices, it seems there are clearly issues:
Research from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase surveyed 10,000 workers from 14 countries with some startling results:
- 85% of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and can’t concentrate
- 95% said working privately was important to them but only 41% said they could work privately, and 31% had to leave the office to get work completed.
- Office workers are losing 86 minutes a day due to distractions
The Journal of Human Ecology found through its investigation into the subject that: “Despite perceived privacy, irrelevant speech contributes to mental workload, poor performance, stress, and fatigue.”
Fatigue, stress, unhappiness, inability to concentrate, none of these are words that support the notion that open plan offices are anything more than a failed experiment. But while the argument may seem one-sided against open plan offices, the powers that be are not devoid of their own logical reasons for liking them. These include:
- They’re Cheaper – Office space in large cities today is incredibly expensive. It makes economic sense to jam everyone together in one big space.
- They’re Flexible – If you anticipate your staffing needs will double in the next couple of years, you don’t want to be constantly building and knocking down walls.
- They’re Better than Cubicles – That may be true, but it’s a little like saying double bypass surgery is better than triple bypass surgery.
- Your Company Looks Busy – Visitors to your open office will probably come away with a sense that your company is “dynamic” and “cutting edge” and not notice your workers are actually unhappy and stressed out.
Clearly both sides have strong arguments to support their positions but is it possible, as we asked at the beginning, to find a middle path that will serve everyone’s needs? Happily the answer is a resounding “yes.”
Architectural Partitions to the Rescue
Let’s do a brief recap: In one corner you have owners who want maximum ROI on their pricey office space. In the other corner you have highly trained, skilled workers who aren’t fond of being treated like they’re in middle school. It might seem like an implacable situation but for one thing: architectural partitions.
Between the extremes of open and closed lies the middle path; architectural partitions. These affordable, flexible, tech ready wall systems can:
- Break up the tyranny of the open space into more agreeably sized sections
- Break up the wall of sound that characterizes most open plan offices
- Create enough privacy for people to get their work done
- Retain an open feel through use of glass partitions
At the same time owners will still get maximum use out of their expensive space and retain that all important flexibility in case they need to adjust on the fly.
Architectural Partitions are Our Passion: Let Us Put Them to Work for You
IMT Modular has been at the forefront of the modular movement for well over a decade. We’ve watched the office environment swing between the extremes of cloistered and cavernous and have been there when companies large and small finally decided to seek out the middle path. The idea that you need to choose between either being cost effective or worker friendly is a myth we bust every day. There is a better way. Architectural partitions from IMT Modular.
Call us today on 416-743-4513 or toll free on 1-844-468-1468 to learn more about architectural partitions and how they can help you achieve significant cost savings while providing your workers with an environment they’ll appreciate. Modular walls are the smart way to keep both your shareholders and workers happy.