Mostly, we want our offices to look cool. But what we actually need is for them to help us work to our creative optimum.
Some context: In 2010 there was an average of 225 square feet of work-space per employee. By 2012 this had reduced to 176 and it is projected to be 100 by 2017. With the reduction of office space, companies work spaces are not at their optimum and so work less well than they used to. They have saved money but created less productive spaces. In a study by Gensler, 53% of people were distracted.
When designing an office, the most important factors are: focus, collaboration, learning, and space. The art is to understand how these work together and which ones need to dominate. And according to a report from Orangebox, the pioneering smart-working furniture company, there is far too much emphasis on collaboration, and not enough on focus.
So how do you hack your office to work better? Well, if we followed our needs it would be designed to work like this:
- 54% Focused work
- 24% Collaborative work
- 8% Socialising
- 5% Learning
Design Your Office With Your Ears, Not Your Eyes.
Creative work is best done at about 70 decibels whereas detailed work is better performed at 55 decibels. Once noise exceeds 85 decibels all work suffers. 70 decibels is the equivalent of the hum of a coffee shop, which potentially makes them places for creative thinking.
Is your office too loud? If everyone is wearing headphones, it tells you it is too loud to focus. If it’s too quiet, it may well kill innovation.
As Professor Ravi Mehta puts it: “Extreme quiet tends to sharpen your focus, which can prevent thinking in the abstract.’’
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