“We” space versus “me” space

“We” space versus “me” space

Office - Workplace December 2019

“We” space versus “me” space

The current trend for open plan, collaborative office space cannot be seen as a brushstroke “one size fits all” when it comes to the work force.

In the quest for lower overheads and a more integrated, office layout, business owners still need to be mindful of the personality makeup of their teams – particularly if an existing work force has been moved from a more traditional work place into a new-format open plan office.

While the saying goes “there’s no such thing as I in team”, an individual’s personality type and work style cannot be overlooked in the pursuit of an inclusive and agile work space.

Introverts may not function to their potential when placed in a noisy, boundary-fluid work environment where collaboration is pushed as the ideal work model – and likewise, some job roles simply don’t lend themselves to hot desks or touch down spaces.

A study highlighted in Frontiers in Psychology confirmed that working in an open-plan office stifles privacy and can make employees feel like they don’t have any “ownership” over their work space. Those employees without a sense of privacy had lower job satisfaction, less work engagement and were more likely to call in sick.

These individuals may retreat from the clutter by zoning out with headphones on and thereby shutting out opportunities for brainstorming, open discussion and creative banter.

If you are retrofitting your office and considering doing away with partitioned offices, you may want to rethink your strategy in order to optimise the strengths of individual team members and maintain or increase productivity.

Breakout rooms, noise-cancelling pods and a flexible approach to remote working should be on the agenda.

There’s been big noise made around millennials driving the way office spaces are configured and designed. However, in this age of inclusivity and diversity, this is somewhat short-sighted and limiting in the discussion of workplace dynamics.

People inherently like to have some control over their work environment and are more productive when they feel their needs are being recognised and catered for.

The world is made up of introverts and extroverts – and those in-between – and all have relevance in the office of today.

As technological advancements enable and encourage people to work remotely, it’s important not to lose sight of the social element that binds an office team together. Culture is central to an engaged and productive workplace and the physical environment should allow that to percolate.

Some of the best new-generation office buildings being developed in New Zealand have the ability to not only morph across different business user-groups – but can also adapt to different needs within teams, with the office layout able to accommodate many varying working styles and preferences.

Natural light and interesting view shafts ease the sense of confinement and design elements like green walls and water features add to a feeling of staff well-being.

Changing the work environment for your office business because it makes financial sense cannot be viewed in isolation from the way the individuals work as part of the bigger team.

There’s a lot more than aesthetics and bottom lines at stake here….


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