“We” vs. “Me”: Does your workplace interfere with working?

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JLL’s Bernice Boucher writes about the importance of creating “focus friendly” spaces in Work Design Magazine

Boucher, Bernice_sq_rgbIn a recent article written for Work Design Magazine, JLL’s Head of Workplace Strategy in the Americas, Bernice Boucher, posed this question regarding open office design:

“Are office layouts nailing the “open” part of the concept, but sabotaging employees’ ability to focus?”

In further exploring the holy grail of workplace productivity, Bernice noted that more businesses are adopting workplace strategies that focus on activity-based planning concepts that better support employees’ varied work styles and goals, balancing collaboration-oriented areas with quieter spots that cater to “heads-down work”. She argues that when done well, a combination of concepts such as “hot-desking” and “free seating” with other flexible workplace design approaches can cut costs, reduce carbon footprints, and ensure that both quiet and buzzing workplaces are available when diverse duties call.

In the article, Bernice offered four steps to more focus-friendly spaces, that is, tips for cultivating a work environment that is both engagement- and focus-friendly.

1. Mitigate noise
Open layouts can be noisy which can cause stress and irritation, negatively affecting employees’ ability to concentrate. To solve this, Bernice recommends providing small, private spaces for concentrated solo work.

2. Promote “membership” over “ownership”
By shifting the focus from “owned” desks to non-territorial workspace options, employees are free to choose the space that best supports their task. This change must be managed thoughtfully however, so that employees don’t feel as though their desks are being taken away from them. The key is to convey the advantages of the activity-based workplace and to implement policies that ensure productivity in the new environment.

3. Mix up communal space offerings, too
Like individuals, groups also need areas to focus. Offering flexible communal areas with designated spots for formal and informal meetings enables workers to convene for heads-down solo work or small-group collaboration, scheduled meetings, spontaneous chats and informal networking.

4. Reinforce workplace design strategy with policy
Smart layout is integral to focus-friendly space, but the environment is also a product of the thoughtful policies and culture behind it. For example – creating mobile phone-free zones or requiring mobile phones to be set on vibrate-only can minimize distraction.

To read the article in full, head over to Work Design Magazine.