For about the last five years, we’ve seen and promoted the inclusion of collaborative areas within office spaces. We’ve seen a heavy a push towards vast open spaces, which we justified through the belief that they create better communication, transparency, knowledge share and inclusion of managers and supervisors with their teams. We’ve long held the belief that people need to communicate, collaborate and meet throughout their day at the office.
But here’s the problem. Walk into any open-plan office environment today, and you’ll notice how many staff are using headphones. Does this mean that all of our attempts to bring people together and promote communication is being cancelled out by the increasing tendency of people to block out external noise?
When discussing this trend with our own staff, some have said they prefer listening to music while working so that they can concentrate. Others said they use headphones just to block out sounds or to prevent people from interrupting them while they work. It seems that increasing numbers of employees prefer to come to work, focus on the task at hand, concentrate and be left alone. In this way, their work is completed more efficiently.
With that revelation, we have to ask the question: are we only creating an open plan space to suit the pockets of business owners and increasing floor space efficiency, or do we have our staff’s best interests at heart? And isn’t it time we started communicating with the feet on the ground and the staff who actually use the office space, to find out their ideal working environment and how it can best increase their productivity?
What if management listen to staff needs before looking at rental cost? How could businesses actually improve and grow if efficiencies grew from the ground up?
We think it’s time we started thinking about work differently – including the needs of employees. After all, they are at the centre of any organisation.