Nothing attracts talented employees more, besides an interesting job with a top salary, than an office environment that is welcoming, attractive and innovative. The open-office plan promised all this and more. The idea for the design was to lower costs with fewer walls taking up space and to encourage more interaction between staff, yielding greater creativity. Unfortunately, the concept has increased employee frustration and, in some cases, lowered morale and productivity. Complaints include disruptive conversations, equipment noise and visual distractions.
But, don’t let the negative chatter keep you from incorporating the open-floor plan into your future office renovation. And if employee grumblings have made you start to think you made a mistake by creating an inclusive-office environment, don’t second guess your decision. With the help of a professional designer, there are any number of ways to divert visual and acoustic disruptions.
We’ve put together the following list of innovative design elements that you can use to get started on providing your employees with some privacy and keep them happy with your updated layout.
Convert Underused or Unused Office Space Into Meeting Rooms
To keep group discussions from interrupting the work flow of the rest of the staff, convert a little-used room into a meeting area where discussions can flow freely without disturbing others. When groups aren’t meeting, designate the area as a dedicated quiet space for those seeking a library environment with few distractions.
Another option is to use the seldom utilized space for noisy equipment, such as vending machines, printers, copiers and fax machines.
Redesign an Area of the office With Acoustic-Absorbing Materials
If you don’t like the idea of a walled-off meeting area, select a section of the office for an open-meeting space. By utilizing acoustic-absorbing materials, you can reap the benefits of an open-office design while reducing noise pollution. A lowered ceiling with sound-absorbing ceiling baffles, fabric panels, carpeting on the floor and well padded upholstered furniture can be attractive and noise mitigating.
Create Private Spaces
Choose areas of the office for dedicated quiet spaces where personnel can relax and do their best work, without visual and verbal interruptions. Placing a comfortable chair in various corners of the office, surrounding the chairs with a few tall plants and adding a small table with a light will provide a visually isolated breakout work space. Another option is to use noise-reducing, folding screens or a wall of plants to separate several chairs placed in quieter areas of the business. You can also purchase privacy chairs in all shapes and colors with tall, acoustical sides to provide personal space and block visual distractions.
If the open-office concept is the type of culture you want for your company, just remember that the creative mind also needs moments of quiet solitude.