Why the modern workplace is failing

What are the unforeseen consequences of today’s office design and how can you counter these negative effects?

While the ability to focus without interruptions is a top priority for employees, this need is being disrupted by today’s open plan offices.
The latest report from Oxford Economics, entitled When the Walls Come Down, surveyed over 1,200 senior executives and non-executive employees from businesses worldwide and found that modern workplace design was affecting overall productivity levels.
Noise and distractions presented challenges particularly in open plan offices, the report found.
“Ambient noise and lack of personal space can make it hard for employees to concentrate and get things done,” Jeff Lowe, vice president of marketing at Smart Technologies, told Oxford Economics.
This is compounded by some businesses seemingly forgetting about noise considerations when designing their offices. In fact, the report found that 36% of firms overlooked how to minimise distractions in their workplace designs.
“Designing for today’s workplace means building spaces that help employees be as productive as possible and do their best work,” said Lowe.
This means offering private spaces where individuals can get peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the office.
Offering employees the tools to deal with distractions in the office is another area where modern day workplaces are failing, the report found. Only 32% of employees surveyed felt they had the necessary tools to cope with this issue.
The technology offered has to be user friendly and functional, ultimately conducive to getting the job done. This goes much further than just communications and IT devices though, the Oxford report advises and can even include workplace aspects such as acoustics to minimise distractions.
Ultimately, it is up to employers to talk with employees and seek out any issues in the workplace. In a noisy office environment, giving workers the ability to manage their distractions and get some quiet time will go much further towards boosting engagement and productivity than beanbags and free food.


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