How smart companies are rewriting the rules of the open workplace
This study of 600 executives and 600 employees shows a big disconnect between how each group sees the problem of office noise. While only 35% of executives say noise reduces their employees' satisfaction and productivity, over half (50%) of employees say it does. The report suggests the problem may lie in the fact that executives don't feel the pain. Sixty-two percent still have private offices, compared to only 14% of employees.
The study also uncovers the need for better remote work tools, technology integration, and a clearer understanding of work-life boundaries.
If office noise is such a problem, why don’t noisy coffee shops, airports, or co-working spaces bother us?
"The problem may be that, in our offices, we can’t stop ourselves from getting drawn into others’ conversations or from being interrupted while we’re trying to focus. Indeed, the EEG researchers found that face-to-face interactions, conversations, and other disruptions negatively affect the creative process."
This HBR article suggests the problem with noisy offices is more a matter of who's making the noise than how loud it is. Recent brain science suggests just the right amount of noise (i.e. coffee shop level) may enhance creativity.
Using nature to battle noise pollution in the office: Plantronics takes a creative approach to open office distractions
In the Netherlands, global headset manufacturer Plantronics is finding novel new ways to counter noise pollution in its new flagship smart workspace.
More and more businesses move to open plan environments in an attempt to engender higher collaboration between employees and better utilisation of the floor space by bringing in flexible or smart working practices.” But these actions, According to Paul Clark, Managing Director for Plantronics in Europe and Africa, are putting people in a “melting pot of noise.”
- Leesman’s research says dissatisfaction with “noise levels” is the strongest likely indicator that a person’s workplace is affecting their productivity
- Plantronics research shows that 93% of office workers claim to be adversely affected by the noise in their workplace
- 73% report that their employer takes no action to address the problem
- 61% of respondents say that they take matters into their own hands by listening to music and other audio through headphones
Plantronics opted for biophilic solutions, adding the sound of running water as an “overlay to the general hubbub” of the office.
Pause Pod wants to offer you a one-person escape pod from the tyrannies of the open office plan. This is what a work tent looks like.
In an open office plan, you are surrounded by co-workers, buffeted by the winds of their noisy company, whether you like to hear it or not. A new device wants to offer you a one-person escape pod from the tyrannies of this setup.
Pause Pod, which markets itself as the “world’s first private pop up space suitable for all your relaxation needs,” was launched as a Kickstarter campaign in April, and now can be bought in its prototype stage. The Sweden-based entrepreneurs said they were “inspired by the blanket forts we used to build when growing up.”
You really have problems at your office if Pause Pods become a line item in your budget.
"Although many firms believe large, open-plan workspaces help collaboration, in fact, unless staff are in close proximity ‘you might as well be in Belgium’, said Dr Millard. However research has shown that put workers too close together and they clam up, as if being stuck in a lift together"
Dr. Millard suggests distractions and task switching among the biggest problems with open plan where "one size fits nobody."
Will offices no longer be needed? No, says Millard. They're still important -- if only for socializing.