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Do offices work?

BP Offices, Rotterdam

If you work in an office, have you ever wondered how much of your day is spent actually being productive? Office environments, while intended to be spaces to foster creativity and collaborative work, are not always conducive to business efficiency.

We recently saw a brilliant TED Talk ‘Why Work Doesn’t Happen in Work’ by Jason Fried, a founder of Basecamp, the programme which helps businesses to manage projects organically and remotely. It got us thinking about flexible working. How many of us have the chance to work flexibly?

Open plan office environments are favoured the world over by businesses ranging from SMEs to multinational companies, such as Google and Facebook. The concept of open plan working aims to bring people together to work in a shared space to elicit unplanned employee interactions and spark creative thought and teamwork.

However, some tasks require extended periods of concentration, which open plan offices disrupt. Noisy printer, clattering keyboards anybody? Fried asks his audience to consider times when they’ve truly been alone in the office and free to work in solitude. Unsurprisingly, most people said they were lucky if they even had one hour to themselves to really commit to a task at hand.

Many business leaders are listening to their employees as the discussion grows louder. Office environments increasingly offer workers devoted spaces to complete uninterrupted, solo work. These range from breakout areas away from the hubbub of daily office life to dedicated rooms or spaces that use innovative design ideas to minimise external stimuli, such as improved acoustics or tranquil natural window views.

The advent of remote working is also extending the working space beyond the office walls. This means that projects can be done in real-time, whether you’re in the office, at the local coffee shop, or at home.

So, next time you find your office routine disrupted by the office environment, think about the small changes you can make to your working week to really make the most of your productivity. We know we will be.

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