Monthly Archives: February 2019

Office Design Options

"The open plan office is dead – long live the open plan office!"

In all aspects of design, trends come and go. The introduction of office cubicles has largely fallen out of favour, but whereas the decriers were saying this symbolised the death of the open plan office, this has not been the case. The design leaders, often the larger tech companies, have used experts outside of the industry to ask what work space set-up best suits our needs as humans?

There has been an emphasis on collaboration and communication in recent years, and this has been reflected in corporate design trends. Movable partitions, options for working environments, open, relaxing and welcoming spaces for employees from all departments to linger and mingle have all been seen in the swanky offices we can be proud to show to our clients.

With all ying there must be a yang – and for office design trends this has been to throw the whole concept of openness out of the window and opt instead for the closed office. It may cost more in terms of set-up and floor space, and having a set room for each employee, with their own desk and a door to close on the rest of your colleagues flies in the face of work space trends in 2019. So why would you choose it? Why risk office shame at corridors of closed doors, unwelcoming to visitors, so off-trend that it looks as though you are not a progressive company? Why spend a greater part of your design budget on static walls and doors/ separate work spaces and individual desks?

It doesn’t suit all businesses, but it is the best solution for certain industries. Tying into our blog post from last week, The Silent Office, it has been proven that giving people the opportunity to access silent, or very quiet environments, can result in an increase in both their memory and their productivity. If the nature of your work requires your employees to really concentrate then having their own space is likely to ensure they are better able to carry out their work than within a noisy, distracting, open space.

Any work space design needs to look first at the purpose for which it is required – and the company using it. There is no right or wrong design in terms of trends, but there most certainly is in terms of workers. What suits one company won’t necessarily suit another, and to get the right working environment for you and your employees you need a design company that starts by gaining an understanding of your company culture and the nature or your employees work.

The Silent Office

If you’re reading this in your office, how much noise are you hearing? Even if you’re not currently at work, can you imagine being there, and what sounds you would be hearing?

Modern workplaces can be noisy, and noise can be distracting. We’ve written before about Office Noise and ways in which to reduce it but were intrigued by a report that advocates silence for better concentration and productivity.

Two separate studies in 2013 found that the brain is always active, even when resting, and that the part of the brain that helps memories form can be prompted to increase cell development when allowed two hours of silence a day.

Noise has been shown to cause elevated levels of stress, whereas silence has the opposite effect. In our work spaces we are often bombarded with noise – people talking, printers printing, phones ringing – and finding a quiet space let alone a place of silence can seem impossible.

If the studies and the reports are correct though, ensuring that your office design incorporates spaces for employees to find a refuge from noise could help your businesses’ profitability and increase the productivity of your workforce. There are some stunning designs for individual and group work pods that could provide this space and as many are mobile, they can be incorporated into most current set ups.

A study published in Heart journal found that a mere 2 minutes of silence proved to be even more calming than listening to “relaxing” music, so let’s all find a place to turn off the noise and take time out to refocus on our work at hand. As the saying goes, silence really is golden.