Myths About Workplace Design

It is no secret that the old style of cubicles and office separation is a fading memory in workplace design, but there are many reasons that these changes are taking place and old molds of standard offices are being broken. Designers and business owners are finding that there are myths that stood for many years that have proven to be untrue. Here are the top 5 myths about workplace design busted:

Silence is Golden

This is not true as most of us do not accomplish things solely on our own, but involve colleagues to give input and help in a particular task or project. Data shows that an average of 34% of people interact face-to-face when collaborating on a project. This does vary by industry with a high of 46% in software development to a low of 27% in media companies.

Colleague Corridor Meet and Greet

As opposed to what TV shows with a long walking corridor scenes where characters interact and collaborate would have us think, data shows that of 24 buildings observed, corridors play a minor role. 4% of interactions occur in corridors and 9% happen in break rooms or “water-cooler” situations. It is important to think about hallways and corridors as a means to get from break-out spaces, workspaces, and meeting rooms rather than create them to be large and long as was thought to fostering interactions and collaborations.

Most Contact at Work is Planned

Actually, only 34% of employees plan their interaction while a majority of it occurs spontaneously. This means that there is an increasing need to create spaces where people can interact with each other on an ongoing basis and in an easy continual way.

Most Workplaces are Flexible

On average, only 6% of people move around at work while 85% sit. We know that standing and moving around is not only beneficial to the health and wellbeing of the workforce, but it also generates more opportunities to have contact with others and increase brain power. Smart workplace designs encourage and necessitate movement.

Open Doors Result in Collaboration

Studies at MIT in the 1970’s established in the beginning that distance strongly influences who we talk to the most frequently in the office. In the scope of choosing the right property or even designing workplaces it must be recognized that ‘out of sight’ usually means ‘out of mind’ which has a significant impact on collaboration and sharing knowledge in your organization.

Email Overcomes Physical Distance

Communication technology has grown to the point where people say that face-to-face speaking is ‘dead’. Data shows however, that in the workplace communication is still tied very much to the degree of physical space and our patterns of email more closely imitate face-to-face contact. In five different organizations studies show that 77-89% of face-to-face and email contacts mirror each other. Basically, we email and collaborate that way with people we are in close proximity to and directly speak to most often.

What all of this shows us, is that even though results cannot be easily generalized, the findings highlight the critical importance proximity and open spaces is to collaboration. When looking at your office design layout be sure to plan your space to nurture and entice camaraderie, consolidation and the meeting of great minds so that your team can work at full capacity and functionality.


Clip to Evernote