The movement towards open plan offices to get people working together was believed to create more interaction, more synergy and therefore more creativity and productivity.
A recent study of 11,000 office-based workers in Europe, quotes CIPD this month, found that 32% of people felt the design or layout of their office has led to a drop in productivity. This rose to 45% for those who operated a hot-desking policy. What does it even matter - it's the minority and someone said you can't please all of the people all of the time!
Interestingly in the UK 73% of respondents to the survey said open plan was detrimental to their work, and 36% favoured closed environments. Why am I even bringing this to your attention? Last week we had a little move around the office and my area got quieter. I love the quiet on the whole but can work with background noise too. BUT so many people came to me and said "Oh it's so quiet here" and it got me a bit enraged. I felt the comment had a negative connotation - if you're quiet you're not working effectively. It also got me thinking, as I'm a sucker for the underdog, is it better to work in a quiet space or a noisy space - who's more productive. I want to DEFEND THE QUIET SPACE!
The main issue seems to be one of rising noise levels and how individuals react to this 'pollution'. Head of Professional Services at Savills said that noise levels have risen from 83% in 2019 up from 77% in 2016.
Open plan offices in the UK now make up 54% of the workplace. British Gypsum has published some interesting findings. The effect of high noise levels in the workplace has been well researched, with studies showing a "loud environment can have a negative impact on workers' ability to retain vital information, affecting concentration levels, productivity and work quality".
There you go. Some people simply find it harder to work in a noisy environment. Does that mean that they are wrong to speak up? It's worth thinking about when you read about the potential downsides.
My colleague Lee Griffiths, like me, likes to find solutions through investigating issues. He has found a good middle ground - white noise. Researchers have confirmed that a moderate amount of ambient white noise enhances creative tasks and improves imagination, whereas a higher level of noise prevents information processing thus interrupting your creative flow.
Rising levels of noise in offices can be leading to increased stress and lowering productivity ...... here's some ideas