Typically, the first thing that you notice when you walk into an office is the amount of space it takes up. It may even be subconscious, but you become aware of the amount of physical space. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking a space is enormous, or even tiny, and that has a lot to do with the furniture.
Open layouts that tend to encourage collaboration, movement, and casual meetings tend to give off a more relaxed vibe, while spaces that still use cubicles or even older workstations will often feel cramped and can even create anxiety. Every space has pros and cons. However, the topic we’re focusing on today is productivity. Mattei Britten, Project Manager & Designer at Office Revolution, lends her thoughts as to how office spaces impact productivity and how it can affect workplace relations.
What qualities/characteristics of an office space cause it to encourage and promote productivity and creativity?
An open office encourages employees to get up and move around. This leads to a higher likelihood of impromptu meetings, which can generate conversations that result in creative solutions. All of the smaller meeting spaces, common areas, and break out spaces encourage collaboration. The more heads you put together the better/more creative the solution.
How do older, closed-style offices compare to the new open concept offices in terms of productivity?
Older style offices seemed to encourage heads down work, sitting in a cubicle all day. You had to be at your desk in order to get your work done. In today’s offices, there are so many more opportunities to work not only at your desk but from almost anywhere. Work seems like less of a chore when you can answer emails from a building lobby, or rooftop, and is actually resulting in employees working MORE than in the older style office.
How can an office space encourage/discourage employee relations?
If you’re in an office where everyone sits in their own cubicle, and/or private office, you aren’t as inclined to collaborate because the environment itself feels more restrictive. In an open office, there is more of a sense of “we’re all in this together,” and that feeling, to me, sparks friendships and creates a camaraderie among co-workers. This tends to lead to a higher morale and overall happier vibes in the office.
What type of space do you find to be most productive?
I personally get the most done when it’s quiet, but with a bit of background noise.
Is there a solution you really enjoy for providing both a collaborative space, but at the same time offering employees a place to work independently?
I think that booth or high back lounge seating gives you the best of both worlds. If you need to move from your desk to focus, this is a type of furniture that can offer privacy. Simultaneously, if you need to have a quick meeting, it is more informal than reserving a conference room and offers up a space for quick collaboration.
Are there certain office products you really like that help increase productivity?
Of all the products out there, a height adjustable desk is probably my favorite. We (as humans) aren’t meant to sit in one position all day. A sit-to-stand desk allows me to feel more alert throughout the day without resorting to that 3pm cup of coffee.