In the past few years some large technology corporations have made headlines by ditching their traditional office structure for what is essentially a single cavernous space where workers sit side by side at benches that stretch to the horizon. Owners trumpet these spaces as forward-thinking, egalitarian environments that provide a sense of common purpose, while workers decry them as nightmares that fail to recognize that human beings are not unfeeling, flesh-covered hardware.
Office Partitions: Acknowledging the “Human” in Human Resources
Open plan offices were largely intended to boost productivity by fostering team spirit while simultaneously reducing overhead. While they’ve pretty good at reducing overhead they also have been shown to fail pretty miserably when it comes to increasing productivity. Why is that?
- Humans need privacy – Not everyone wants or needs a corner office with heavy walls and a thick oak door but people – even those tasked with mundane jobs – need to have a sense that they’re not under a microscope all the time. It’s been proven that people work better when they’re provided a modicum of privacy. Breaking up cavernous spaces with modular office partitions provides workers the privacy they need to concentrate on the task at hand.
- Sound travels – One of the many complaints workers have with open-plan offices is that they are under constant siege from sounds of every possible type emanating from every possible direction. Music, phone calls, video conferences, conversations and more create a blizzard of sound that is nearly impossible to escape. By partitioning your space intelligently you break up the free flow of noise and foster a quieter, more orderly, less distracting workplace.
- Meeting rooms are important – If you’ve ever tried to conduct a meeting in an open plan office you know how difficult it can be. You’re likely to hear “What?” more than you hear productive input and people are constantly distracted by the surrounding circus. It’s essential to have quiet spaces dedicated to focused, thoughtful discussion of important business matters and meeting rooms created by office partitions are a perfect way to achieve this.
- Employee health = productivity – People who work in cubicle farms call in sick more often than those that don’t. Open plan offices were supposed to change that trend but in fact only made it worse. The only office layout that has been shown to reduce the number of sick day call ins while also generating high degrees of employee satisfaction are modular office setups where partitions are used to create a combination of open, semi-private and private spaces.
- Flexibility is essential – A partitioned office is a productive office staffed by motivated workers who feel the company understands and appreciates their needs. In a world of few trade barriers and a 24/7 business day today’s companies need to retain the ability to shift gears on the fly while keeping their overhead low and their workers rowing in the same direction. No other component for business will fulfil these needs more effectively than office partitions.
While it would be nice to think you could just cram everyone into a cafeteria with computers and expect them to be happy, healthy and more productive than ever it’s just not the case. At the same time resurrecting the cubicle farm is not a productive way forward either. A middle way is needed. That middle way is the flexible office created using modular wall partitions that finds that effective balance between openness and privacy.
Call IMT Modular today to learn more about how office partitions can help your company achieve its productivity goals while reducing expenses and creating a future-proof office environment at the same time.