Office layout is incredibly important for staff wellbeing, teamwork and productivity. There have been debates about what type of office is best for decades – small enclosed cubicles, comfortable home-away-from-home workplaces with sleep pods or large open plan offices with hot desking. Balancing privacy, interaction and teamwork can be difficult, but with the right office layout, businesses can see huge increases in productivity and innovation. We take a look at some of the science behind office layouts and what type of office might be best for businesses. Office design has never been so important, considering the impact of the pandemic and the trend of creating a destination office – one worth leaving home for!
In the 1960s, inventor Robert Propst headed a team of mathematicians, anthropologists, and psychologists to understand how an office actually worked. The designer furniture company Herman Miller had tasked him with creating a research division that examined how office layout affected worker behaviour and performance. This was perhaps the first time office layout design was truly studied by scientists.
In the 1900s, open offices were the norm, with large open spaces and rows of desks. Robert Propst’s research led to the idea that open offices weren’t good for productivity and workers needed to get up, interact with each other and move around more. Their work led to the development of the famous Action Office, which evolved unintentionally into the office cubicle, which became the norm in many offices until the 2010s.
Office cubicles weren’t popular and most companies switched to open offices to encourage communication and collaboration. However, open offices have actually been shown to decrease face-to-face worker communication, with a 73% fall in interactions and the use of email increasing by 67%. In many studies, enclosed private offices outperformed open-plan layouts. More recent research has also shown that the open office can be detrimental to productivity, with most workers finding them loud, distracting and difficult to work in.
When it comes to privacy vs teamwork, prioritising the design of an office layout is essential and it is important to make sure workers have enough privacy to concentrate. Though teamwork is essential, it can often be easier to communicate in private office meetings than in the middle of an open office.
Perhaps the best way to redesign an office for a team is to conduct some research and ask the teams what type of office they find best to work in. Involving teams means greater buy-in, and as previously mentioned, with the need to encourage staff to return to the office, it is important to reassess how the space will be used and which precautions need to be in place to ensure office hygiene, so employees feel safer at work.
If you’re helping a business change its office layout to increase productivity or collaboration, Duraflor has a huge range of office flooring options for a modern and innovative workplace. Contact our flooring experts team today to discuss what flooring would be best.