Could the darling of the tech sector — the open plan office — be under siege? Thirty-seven percent of employees say an open plan office is distracting. That’s a finding of the Staples Annual Workplace Survey, which analysed the responses of 1,004 full-time employees and 200 office managers across the U.S. and Canada.
The overall message of the survey was that employees are now demanding privacy and their own space to get work done.
Is the Open Office Plan Dead?
Open plan offices were once a big trend in office design, believed to help nurture collaboration and creativity. The Staples survey contradicts this sentiment, revealing that employees find open floorplans lead to distractions and may even be driving people away from traditional office space.
As Modupe Akinola, Ph.D., associate professor of leadership and ethics at Columbia Business School, said in the Staples press release about the survey:
“The open office may have gone too far and could ultimately get in the way of itself. While employees in open offices are more likely to think of their office culture and environment as transparent, distractions — like regularly overhearing co-workers’ personal conversations — have become unavoidable.”
The study also found that 32 percent of employees spend all their time working at their own office. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed believe working remotely removes the distractions of working in a shared, open plan office.
Forty-three percent of the employees surveyed said having the flexibility to work remotely is now a ‘must have’.
For small businesses, the findings of the Staples survey prove the importance and value of keeping up with the latest working practices and office trends in order to help keep employees productive, happy and motivated.
A whopping 80 percent of the respondents believe employers have a responsibility to keep employees mentally and physically fit.
Office space plays a vital role in the wellbeing of workers. Providing employees with the freedom and flexibility to work from home in their own private office space void of distractions, not only improves productivity within a small business but can also boost staff morale, loyalty and retention rates.
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I think the pendulum just swung too far. Having open, collaborative spaces can be very beneficial, but people also need discrete, private space and these mega-office buildings don’t provide it. That’s why every conference room is booked solid and you have to kick people out all the time.