Traditional open-plan offices are noisy and disruptive, writes CID editor Shweta Parida

Traditional open-plan offices are noisy and disruptive, writes CID editor Shweta Parida

Open Plan Offices, Office design, Opinion piece, Interior design, Office trends, Trends

I have a confession: I am not a big fan of open-plan offices, at least not in their current form. They are far too noisy, and present way too many distractions. Earlier this year, when I returned to work after my winter break, my workstation had been moved to another part of our open-plan offices.

Initially hesitant, I now enjoy sitting by the window through which natural light filters in for most part of the day. It is a proven fact that poorly-designed artificial lighting wreaks havoc with our circadian rhythm.

However, apart from that, the open-plan arrangement, with smaller breakout areas, continue to retain the status quo. This is why, I was excited to see the acoustic pods and booths from Dauphin, which are expected to become commonplace in offices. Such ancillary spaces are becoming more important and appreciated by employees who, according to a report by furniture maker Steelcase, use these areas for informal social interaction as well as collaboration with their colleagues. The survey found that 87% of global employees spend between two to four hours away from primary workstations daily, seeking ways to connect with colleagues or to escape for private time.

Another aspect of the new-age mobile workforce is that many smaller firms, especially start-ups, do not want to invest resources in renting big office spaces.

Instead, they are opting for co-working venues that offer them the flexibility these entities want in terms of usage, as well as offering collaboration opportunities with other users who possibly work in diverse sectors.

Such dynamics are rapidly changing the way we work and the effect it has on our productivity. Speaking about productivity, even as we embrace the fact that ‘sitting is the new smoking’, we still sit for a large part of our work hours. Sitting for long hours is bad enough, but sitting on badly-designed task chairs can amplify the negative health effects. Unsurprisingly, modular and flexible workstations, which offer standing options, are becoming hugely popular. For instance, Schiavello’s Agile table is not only well-crafted, but also meets the demands of modern-day work environments. 

While I would still vote against open-plan offices, but an acoustic pod, a standing workstation and a good quality task chair will certainly help me reconsider my scepticism.

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