Interaction vs. Interruption
But creating the right mix of spaces for privacy and collaboration is tricky. Surveying employees on their preferences may result in a welter of opinions instead of a clear path forward.
For example, many employees say that time spent in interactions with colleagues is one of the most productive parts of their day; many also say that various interruptions by colleagues are one of the greatest obstacles. “And they’re both true,” says Fran Ferrone, director of the Center for Workplace Innovation at Mancini Duffy, a New York City-based architecture and interiors practice.
Measuring productivity can also be tricky, but Ferrone believes that it can be done with metrics that have adequate emphasis on people – a firm’s most valuable and expensive resource – and not on real estate alone. Data from different departments, including human resources, finance, and product development, may be needed. While each organization needs to develop its own benchmarks, metrics may include the average number of applicants for positions, top applicants successfully recruited, absentee days, staff turnover, and average time required to complete new projects or products.
Transitioning to Alternative Spaces
Change always creates unknowns and obstacles. To gauge the impact of new layouts, Ferrone recommends that firms develop a pilot and be sure to communicate its goals and benefits to all.
The potential benefits of greater productivity are so great that firms should continually evaluate their space. Business models stayed much the same over the previous century, but now they evolve rapidly and the workspace should evolve with them. “People need to experiment a little and not wait until events like a lease expiration or new requirements force a review,” says Ferrone.
The following articles in this issue’s Blurring Office Boundaries Report provide ideas for alternative spaces, including kitchens and cafés designed for collaboration, reception areas that double as lounges or town hall spaces, quiet rooms that supersede private offices, and wellness and recreation features.
Chris Olson email@example.com is content director of BUILDINGS.