Posted In // Design Tips Office Ergonomics
One of the biggest current trends in office interior design is the open office. Facebook, Google, and other Silicon Valley giants have fueled the popularity of this type of structure. Adherents say it enhances collaboration and efficiency, fostering communication between employees and slashing costs by reducing the space required for an individual workstation.
Not everyone is on board with this concept. A prominent example of criticism of open floor plans is a New Yorker article published in January called "The Open-Office Trap," which generated more than 80,000 social shares. The piece referenced a 2011 study by psychologist Matthew Davis that concluded the open environment is detrimental to productivity, creativity, focus, and stress levels.
Similarly negative sentiments – or at least highly skeptical ones – have been published in the last two years by Time and Forbes However, the recent bad press for open offices certainly does not tell the whole story about how office space should be planned.
Office interior space decisions are complex
David Craig of Fast Company calls the detraction from the open office philosophy a "crescendo of negativity" stemming from the 2012 Susan Cain bestseller Quiet. Craig offers two primary reasons that the move toward openness is not the debacle claimed by Cain (along with other business and cultural critics):
- Much of the criticism is based on perspectives toward individual rather than team output; and
- The debate is typically positioned as a dualistic scenario – open versus enclosed – rather than recognizing that the best option is in the middle, a combination of private and collaborative spaces.
Using open office interior design to its full potential
Agreeing essentially with Craig, Vivian Giang of Business Insider notes that the open office isn't just a trend in Silicon Valley but has been adopted by 7 out of 10 American workplaces. This approach to office design, says Giang, enhances creativity and productivity – provided the proper elements are in place:
- furniture with wheels, so that employees can transition seamlessly between teamwork and individual work;
- options to stand or change seating positions, so that energy stays high and health is maintained;
- designated areas for thought and collaboration, respecting the fact that no single space can meet the needs of every type of work; and
- flexible (rather than assigned) seating, improving the productivity and collaboration levels, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The other aspect to creating strong office interior space is to work with a professional team that "understands" space: Beaux Arts Group. We can advise you on the best furniture for your needs, but we also provide space planning that integrates technical and artistic approaches. To get started, contact us today.