In Defense of Traditional Office Layouts

Office design

One of the biggest trends in the corporate world in recent years is the creation of open-office workspaces. This involves demolishing walls and cubicles and instead of having employees work side by side at long communal tables. Championed primarily by the biggest names in Silicon Valley, open-office layouts were claimed to be able to improve collaboration and foster innovation in the workplace.

However, in practice, this could not be further from the truth. Studies have shown that instead of improving working relationships, open-office workspaces actually do the opposite, with employees reporting higher levels of job dissatisfaction.

Because of this, traditional office fixtures, such as cubicles and private offices, are beginning to make a comeback. As competition in the marketplace continues to increase, rising, ambitious cities, including Las Vegas, are seeking to get the most out of their employees.

Here are a few ways that reintroducing cubicles and dividers in your office could help improve performance:

Remove distractions

When you are seated together with a large group of people, your senses are picking up a multitude of distractions, including the sounds of various conversations and music playing in the background, and the smell of some coworkers’ lunch. This can make it quite tough to focus on your tasks at hand, forcing many to tune everything out by isolating themselves or through noise-canceling headphones. Unfortunately, doing so also defeats the original purpose of the open-office workspace. Instead, removing these distractions by giving people their own spaces to work can help them focus and work better.

Improve productivity and morale

In an open-office workspace, coworkers from different departments, who work on different projects, all share the same space. Thus, instead of all being on the same tasks, there are many voices to be heard, some of which are completely unrelated to the matter at hand. This can cause distractions and make team meetings even less productive than they already are.

Furthermore, when in an open-office workspace, employees have reported facing increased pressure to look busy for fear of judgment from coworkers. This is meant to be achieved despite the distractions posed by an open-office workspace. Hence, it is no surprise that many employees end up disgruntled and dissatisfied with their own coworkers and their jobs, which will definitely lead to a drop in performance.

Grant privacy and personal space

Office set up

Studies have shown that a sense of privacy actually boosts job performance, as employees do not face any outside distractions that might take their attention away from the task at hand. Having a private space also teaches employees better time management practices, as they are aware that there is a specific time for them to work on their own and finish individual tasks within this timeframe, while meetings and collaborations have their own time and place as needed.

Working long hours, whether in a traditional or open-office layout, is tiring. However, having personal workspaces allows employees to rest and recuperate as needed without feeling pressured to the point of burnout. It also helps prevent against the spread of diseases, which can very well happen in an open-office workspace. These contribute to the long-term productivity of employees and help them be the valuable assets to the company they are meant to be.

While open-office layouts may seem groundbreaking, the concept does not necessarily translate into reality. Faced with lowered productivity and employee morale, maybe it is time to consider bringing back the dividers we tore down, if only for our — and the employees’ — sake.

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