Your work environment can have a profound impact on your workday and the quality of your work. The current trend is to steer away from isolation, making offices tear down the walls, both literal and figurative. The problem is, it’s hard to concentrate when you can constantly hear the conversations of your coworkers. A recent New York Times article sheds some light on this particular issue.
To some people, it is very difficult to work through the constant chatter that comes with an office space. So if there are no walls, we make our own. Headphones. Giant filing cabinets. Books. You name it, we do it. “After surveying 65,000 people over the past decade in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, report that more than half of office workers are dissatisfied with the level of ‘speech privacy,’ making it the leading complaint in offices everywhere,” according to the Times.
The main argument of the defenders of this type of office space, however, is that the pros of an open office design outweigh the cons. It is easier to have a more informal, collaborative team without walls. And that’s why many offices that are looking to build team spirit – Mayor Bloomberg’s office is referenced in the article – are strong defenders of an open floor plan.
But is there perhaps a compromise to be made? In the myGreenlight office we have a pretty open space which makes it easy to communicate and be casual. At the same time, if any of us need to do some work and don’t want to get distracted, we put in our headphones and get serious. And if we really need silence, we can opt to work at home.
Apparently there’s technology that can help: “…a pink-noise system: a soft whooshing emitted over loudspeakers that sounds like a ventilation system but is specially formulated to match the frequencies of human voices” curbed employee complaints in one office.
Do you have trouble concentrating in an open design office? What do you do to make it work?
Ritu Walia is a Ferrazzi Greenlight Analyst.