Open office plans seem to be everywhere these days. Yet most employees don’t like them and the design doesn’t improve performance. While designers are still creating open office spaces, more and more companies are starting to see the disadvantages of open floor plans. Here is a look at the evolution of the workplace layout and a smart fix for the open office floor plan.
The Open Office Trend
The open office floor plan came about as an alternative to cubicles, which were seen as alienating. Open offices eliminated the sense of hierarchy associated with private offices and made it easier for employees to collaborate. This myth became so pervasive that by 2010 almost 70% of office workers worked in an office that had open floor plans. The assumption is that open workspaces create a more energizing, productive, and creative environment, but the opposite is actually true. Open offices are loud and full of distractions, which usually makes employees less productive.
A Simple Fix if You Can’t Avoid an Open Office Floor Plan
A popular new trend is to use greenery as dividers to bring a sense of privacy back into the workplace, which is a smart fix for the issues created by an open office. The trend of integrating an abundance of plant life into the workplace is growing. Plants add warmth and make the workplace seem less sterile. Greenery can also bring privacy back into the office. Plants make great natural room dividers. Being around plants also has mental health benefits. Certain plants can improve productivity, focus, and feelings of happiness.
Other Trends in Office Spaces
The traditional office environment in general is quite problematic. The average adult spends 90% of their day inside and most spend an unhealthy amount of time sitting down. Smart companies are trying to ameliorate this by switching to standing desks and incorporating under desk ellipticals. Other companies are putting gyms in their business and encouraging employees to exercise during their breaks. The increasing popularity of remote work opportunities is another trend right now. Remote work allows employees to have more control over their work environment so they can find a workplace that gives them the right environment to work productively.
It is going to take time for businesses to implement long-term alternatives to the open floor plan and for these designs to replace current workspaces. But incorporating elements of biophilic design including the use of plants, promoting exercise to combat the sedentary nature of office work, and creating more work-from-home opportunities are all smart and effective short term fixes for the open floor plan problem.
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