What do we think of our offices today? And what do they look like? We called up Tim Oldman, founder and CEO of Leesman Index, which has conducted over 100,000 surveys on how we perceive our workplaces.
“They are extensively open-plan offices. I’m not sure if there’s a particular reason for this, other than perhaps to save costs. I think there is a belief that a densely populated office is more cost-effective. The challenge here is the aspects of the sound landscape. But the office of today has not proven to be a highly productive workspace.”
“It offers considerable advantages. But we have yet to quantify and offset accurately the disadvantages. We don’t fully understand how to compensate for the negatives. That is the biggest challenge to anyone involved in the design and management of workplaces.”
|Is your office a place you are proud to bring visitors to?||Does the design of your office create an enjoyable environment to work in?||Does the design of your office enable you to work productively?|
“Just 54 per cent say that the design enables them to work productively. The purpose of an office fundamentally is to accommodate a team to undertake the role they are employed to do. If the primary role of a workplace is only being met for 54 per cent of employees, I think we have some major questions we need to ask.”
“I think the reason is that the design community has a very poor awareness and knowledge base on acoustics and sound in open areas. They need to increase their knowledge on how to compensate for the noise levels in open-plan spaces.”
“The challenge is that there are not enough variations. People who have finished collaborating need concentrative space where they can commit their ideas and thinking. The open plan is great for some aspects of work, but very poor for other aspects. When the office design does not provide for those other aspects, the solitary and concentrative for example, then the overall landscape will fail.”
“The prime responsibility of the management is to understand the differences and what the employees actually are doing. There’s an assumption that one size fits all. We have to move managements away from that concept.”
“The biggest trend we see is an increased interest in activity-based work. The risk in that trend is that too many see it as a design strategy rather than a management strategy. The design is one of the factors, but you’ll need infrastructure and behaviour changes to fully adopt an activity-based working approach. We have actually started to talk about activity-based thinking instead of working.”
Text: Lars Wirtén
Photographer: Leesman Index
This article is from the magazine ECO for Sustainable Design - Office edition. If you enjoyed it and want more similar articles, read the full magazine online or download it to your iPad or Android tablet for a more interactive experience.