Disruption is ever present in our home lives thanks to virtual assistants and the ever-evolving Internet of Things. Yet our offices seem to have remained relatively static: desks, tables and chairs, filing cabinets and phones. However, change is coming to the these places where we spend an average of eight hours a day.
In a study that investigates how the design of offices could enhance productivity, the Mayo Clinic built a “Well Living Lab” to compare the productivity of employees in one environment compared to another. The results highlighted interesting impacts of certain environmental factors.
The ‘Well Living Lab” could be described as a simulator for the high-tech office, where productivity can be measured under manipulated conditions including different lights, temperatures, background noises (provided by ceiling speakers). Sometimes these background noises were your typical office sounds like someone typing on a keyboard, but some were more irksome. In one test case, a male voice repeated the phrase “patient archive” over and over.
Ultimately, they found that the ideal office space for productivity consists of eight zones. Here’s a simple breakdown.
The eight office zones:
1 – Home Base: Quiet area for concentrated, focused working
The home base, or quiet area, is the classic, simple, quiet office space: chairs and desks, without typical background noise. This is where the essential functions of the workday are completed.
2- Open Plan: Open workspace supporting communication
Fosters impromptu meetings, off the cuff brainstorming, and general colleague communication, which is shown to improve workplace happiness and even productivity.
3 – Meeting Room: Conferencing, workshops and training sessions
For structured meetings and focused group work sessions, you need a space where a conference can be held. This is also where you woo clients, conduct interviews, and so on.
4 – Break-out Area: Informal working, break time and chat
This is a place designed for informal chatter. It’s the appropriate place to recharge with a snack and decompress with a cup coffee. In fact, researchers have found a productivity benefits to encouraging employees to take breaks.
5 – Touchdown: A zone for spontaneous, flexible working
It is also a good place for a visiting person to catch up on email while they wait for a meeting to begin. This ensures that people who aren’t in the office often or are coming from out of town to have a place to be productive.
6 – Refuge Area: A sanctuary for confidential conversations
These places of refuge are necessary for the sensitive conversations that businesses need to have, like personnel discussions or a discrete conversation with a bank manager. This place can be equipped with a whiteboard, flexible furniture options, and perhaps a computer.
7 – Resource Room: Equipment and stores
Instead of scattered through the open area, printers, shredders and copy machines should all be gathered in a resource room. This prevents resource waste, but it also eliminates the chatter and beeping of these machines, thus keeping distraction to a minimum.
8 – Inter-zone Corridors: Reactivate and focus body and mind
These corridors, which appear to be nothing but a necessity, actually offer a rare and valuable opportunity. In a largely static work environment, you get a chance to pump blood to your brain and legs, which can refresh you and spark creativity.