For decades, research has found that open-plan offices are bad for companies, bad for workers, bad for health and bad for morale.
Some of the hate generated by them is one reason so many people love the idea of working from home now. One of the supposed great virtues of the open office was that we could share ideas with coworkers sitting nearby. Innovation would flourish, friendships arise, and work wouldn’t feel like work.
That’s not really true. As it turns out, the easiest thing to share in an open office are viruses.
A review of more than 100 studies on open offices found that the layout consistently led to lower rates of concentration and focus.
Leading behavior and culture change expert Edward Brown found that office workers lose three to five hours of productive time every day due to unwanted and unproductive interruptionswith 93% of workers reporting being often interrupted at work.
Furthermore, a much-cited study by Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban found that when companies made the move to more open-plan offices, workers had about 70% fewer face-to-face interactionswhile email and instant messaging use rose.
One solution to the dilemma is to reinvent the workplace so that people want to work there.
So what are the characteristics of an ideal centralized workplace that might convince employees that they’d be happier and healthier coming into the office? Here are three:
1. Private Offices
What workers dislike most about open-plan offices is that they’re noisy and distracting, and the cafeteria-like environment makes it impossible to have discussions and interactions without everybody overhearing everything.
The obvious solution here is to give employees private spaces, perhaps offices that have windows with outside views. Ideally these offices would be large enough to accommodate two or even three visitors at one time, thus making it possible to have small, informal discussions.
And private offices could be grouped around a common area, thereby providing opportunities for social interaction and serendipitous contact without impinging on the individual employees’ needs for a quiet, private place to work.
2. Top quality equipment
Most WFHers use a laptop to get their work done. However, working on a laptop, even a high-end one, can involve a lot of bending over and squinting. Laptop keyboards also tend to be cramped and difficult to use.
By contrast, a private office with a large, high-resolution screen hung at eye-level, and a top-of-the-line keyboard positioned exactly where it’s the most comfortable for you is a real perk for anyone who puts in long hours .
Add a $1,000 ergonomic chair, and this adds up to a work environment that will make your home office look comparatively unattractive.
3. Pay workers to commute
Commuting to work is, well, work. At the very least, employees who drive to work should be paid the IRS standards of $0.65 a mile to reflect wear and tear on their vehicles. Similarly, employees who take public transit should have their fares and parking fees paid.
Another way to increase compensation to account for the extra effort of commuting is to enforce reasonable working hours rather than demand the 10 hour workdays (ie, permanent crunch time) that had become the norm in many industries prior to the pandemic.
Solving the office conundrum is not easy, and in all likelihood it will be impossible to make everyone happy. A hybrid model seems to be the best compromise, a largely ‘win-win’ situation for employer and employee.
If you’re looking for opportunities that prize employee autonomy, choice and flexibility, visit The Hill Jobs Board where you can browse a wide selection of open roles right now. Here are three companies hiring this week.
Director, Executive Communications, The Joint Commission, Oakbrook Terrace
The Joint Commission is currently recruiting for a Director, Executive Communications to join their team. To apply, you’ll need 10 or more years’ of communications experience including experience developing senior leadership communications programs and platforms. The successful candidate will possess deep writing experience, ideally with an early foundation in a corporate or agency setting, and/or prior work as a reporter/journalist. Worth noting: this is a hybrid work model role with one or two days a week in its Oakbrook Terrace, IL or Washington, DC offices.
Vice President of Federal Affairs, ASPCA, Washington
ASPCA is looking to hire a Vice President of Federal Affairs for its Washington office. This position is responsible for the overall strategic direction, tone, resource use, and implementation of the federal legislative and regulatory agenda of the ASPCA. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s Degree plus at least 10 years’ experience in a large non-profit or legislative office or government agency. Ideally you’ll have deep knowledge of the federal legislative process, the committee structure, leadership positions, House and Senate procedures, and political and cultural trends on the Hill. A commitment to animal protection issues and a drive to see positive change for animals is a given.
The Office of The Chief Financial Officer is seeking an Associate Deputy Chief Financial Officer in VA, where you will serve as the second-in-command to the deputy chief financial officer, responsible for providing oversight of the day-to-day operational activities. You’ll ensure timely and accurate production of budget formulation, execution, reporting and strategic budgetary analysis as required for carrying out the budget process and will oversee the planning, tracking, reporting, and providing analytic support to the key operations within OBP. You’ll need nine years’ of progressive work experience to apply.
For more career opportunities and to find a role that suits your life, visit The Hill Jobs Board today