Organizations’ pursuit of increased workplace collaboration has led managers to transform traditional office spaces into open, transparent offices with fewer walls, doors and other spatial boundaries.
However, a study from Harvard Business School showed that employees in open plan offices spend 73% less time in face-to-face interactions and email and messaging use shot up by over 67%. The study showed that wall-free offices had a negative effect on attention spans, creativity, motivation, and morale.
The solution is that your workplace strategy should contain enough individual workspace as well. How do you find the right balance between collaborative and individual space?
A balanced approach
The first thing to consider is what sort of work is suitable for what type of office setups. Your sales or customer support team will spend an incredible amount of their time on the phone, making it impossible not to disturb others.
This means that they need a different type of workplace then their colleagues from the law department who spend their time doing work that requires concentration. While designing a new workplace strategy it is key to start with a discovery process.
During this process you collect all information about the different types of work that is executed within your organization and you’ll create an understanding of how those different types are spread through the departments and the organization. Having this information, it becomes clear which type of employees suit to which type of workplaces.
Activity Based Workplace
One of the first things that will show in the discovery process is that many employees execute a broad variety of tasks that require a different workplace setup. When you enable employees to move around in the office during their workday, to change their workplace to a space that suits their tasks best, you actively employ an activity based workplace strategy. Activity based working (ABW) is a way of working in which employees make shared use of a diversity of work settings that have been designed to support different kinds of activities.