As popular as the design has become, open-plan offices aren't winning any awards in the hearts and minds of office workers – at least, not in their current iteration. They are noisy, there's no privacy and some studies have even shown that they reduce productivity overall. For something that's intended to improve co-worker communication, interaction and efficiency, it sounds like it might be doing the exact opposite.
However, the open-plan office might still be saved – with the clever use of Locker Group products, of course. A few simple chain curtains could be the answer to all those employee grumbles.
The issues of open plan
The key to better productivity, efficiency and workplace morale is to allow for a greater variety of different work environments.
Here are a few statements that you might find some office workers agreeing with: Open-plan offices are too noisy, disregard privacy completely and actually result in more fights between coworkers.
And they'd be right, at least according to surveys from Gesler Research in the UK as well as a paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. According to the former, people are sick and tired of working solely in open-office environments, and this design is actually having a detrimental effect on their work.
Meanwhile, the latter demonstrates that open-office environments, as they are now, score much lower in key environmental quality standards, including acoustics and privacy. Apparently, the benefits of the ease of interaction that open plan allows for is outweighed by the penalties that too much noise and not enough private space creates.
A change is as good as a rest
However, that isn't the end of the story. Gesler Research's survey also revealed a curious additional effect: It's less to do with the open-plan office itself, and more to do with the lack of different environments in which to work. When you are unable to escape from an open office, it's no wonder that people end up getting sick of it.
Gesler Research explains that the key to better productivity, efficiency and workplace morale is to allow for a greater variety of different work environments. Enclosed, semi-enclosed and open, all available to workers.
The difference between enclosed and semi-enclosed could be as simple as installing a set of chain curtains around one portion of desks. People can still interact through them, and you maintain that important office airflow, but it gives the illusion of a more private space. Considering how many workers seem to be calling for some kind of getaway, business owners might find that they get a little bit more out of their workforce when they aren't chained to the open-plan design.
For more information and applications of chain curtains or other architectural products, make sure you check out our lookbook below, or get in touch with us directly right here at Locker Group.