Do Your Employees Have Enough Room for Productivity?
For several decades, the office design pendulum has swung away from the cubicle farms of the 1960’s and 70’s, toward an open office plan with few or no walls, offices, or even assigned desks. The open office trend was led by the tech industry, where open office plans were touted as synergistic productivity boosters, fostering collaboration and creativity. Along with the supposed productivity benefits came an overhead bonus: A reduction in average per-employee square footage of 49 s.f. per person, from 225 s.f. to 176 s.f. What’s not to love?
There’s plenty not to love, as it turns out. Creativity may thrive in an open environment, but executing those creative ideas requires focused, heads-down work that a noisy, distracting open office simply can’t provide. As reported in Fast Company, some employees have even quit jobs because the open plan environment prevented them from getting their work done. The diminished work spaces actually reduced interaction by as much as 60%, according to a recent Harvard Business School study, as employees withdrew socially in order to preserve their small remaining spaces.
Now the design pendulum is moving away from the extreme open office plan, toward a more humane and balanced center. For example, manufacturers such as industry leader Swiftspace let employers provide a flexible work environment that adapts from collaboration to heads-down work as teams’ needs change. Per-employee square footage is expanding also, giving workers a bit more personal space.
CFO’s may be initially dismayed by the prospect of increased real estate costs in order to accommodate their employees’ productivity needs. However, they are discovering that a space-efficient storage system gives them the best of both worlds: additional room for workers’ wellbeing, without adding to the office footprint. These high-density mobile shelving systems utilize rails to move shelving units close together, eliminating the fixed aisles between old-style file cabinets. Properly designed by a storage consultant, these systems reduce a storage footprint by 50%. That’s a lot of extra space that can be allocated to a more balanced and productive work environment.
No one wants a return to the soulless gulags of mid-20th-century cube farms. But employees need a certain amount of space, quiet, and privacy to do their best work. A move to a mobile shelving system may be the best solution for giving people room to do their best work, without busting the real estate budget.
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