Open office plans have become more and more popular in recent years, especially with the rise of the “start up culture,” with new and young businesses embracing new age philosophies. But are these office plans actually conducive to a better work environment?
Dr. Nicole Millard, a data and analytics specialist in emerging technology at BT, is a futurologist who believes that the open office plan leads to an increase in distractions and a decrease in efficiency. At New Scientist Live in London, Millard says that the amount of distractions in these environments lead to employees being interrupted every three minutes.
These office plans can be even worse for introverted employees and research has shown that social awkwardness becomes more prominent when coworkers are crammed together.
“The trouble with open-plan offices is they are a one-size-fits-all model which actually fits nobody,” said Millard, according to reports in The Telegraph. “We’re interrupted every three minutes. It takes us between eight and 20 minutes to get back into that thought process. So we will become shoulder bag workers. Our technology has shrunk so we can literally get our office in a small bag. We are untethered, we don’t have to have a desk anymore.”
Among other distractions in the workplace, Millard says that inundation with emails, meetings, and other interactions with coworkers prevent individuals from being efficient. In the process, work is often overlooked or completely forgotten.
So how will things change in the future? “We need a balance between we and me,” Millard explains. “We need to give people options of how they can work, such as home working. But I do go a tiny bit nuts if I am just at home, so I think we will start to embrace ‘the coffice.’ I need good coffee, connectivity, cake, my wifi wings to fly me into the cloud. I like company. The ‘coffice’ could be a coffee shop or a hotel lobby.”
If efficiency is truly a problem, it probably won’t be long until businesses start reforming how they operate in the workplace. Who knows if this will lead to a regression back to more cubicle office styles, or if Millard’s dream of a “coffice” may actually come true.
By Connor Ertz, Earth.com Staff Writer