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Frank Lloyd Wright’s revolutionary idea of the open floor plan was meant to change architecture and office layouts for the better. More light, open space, and easy collaboration between coworkers were supposed to increase productivity and foster a community feel at work.
Wright’s original designs for the open floor plan included expensive materials and a meticulous setup that many architects today have modified to cut costs and building time. However, cutting corners has created problems and given disadvantages to this type of office. The biggest one? Lack of sound privacy.
A report by Gensler found that only 1 in 4 U.S. workers are in optimal workplace environments, and that over 50% of respondents in their study were distracted by others and could not focus at work. In an open layout, conversations are not confined to only the people involved and everyone is disturbed by noise traveling throughout the office.
So how can you counteract these cons of an open floor plan? Here’s a few ideas to keep your employees happy and productive at the office.
Have a balance of Open Space and Private Areas
Complement open spaces that encourage collaboration with individual spaces where employees can focus and work by themselves. Creating a balance will allow workers to choose which space is best for the particular project they’re working on or mood they’re in that day.
Create designated quiet spaces
Even in an open layout office, make sure to give your employees places where they can go to get away from the noise. A comfy break room, relaxing coffee corner, or meditation room are just a few examples. Hang quiet zone signs around these spaces so everyone is aware and respects them. Consider putting door sweeps between the door and the floor or seals around the perimeter of the door to keep extra noise out of those special quiet spaces.
Separate acoustic spaces
Something as simple as placing screens or blockers between open workspaces can drastically decrease noise from traveling between them. AcoustiTracs™ can be hung to confine conversations and noise within the space they are meant for. They can be easily pulled open or shut along a track to switch between collaborative or individual spaces, as previously mentioned.
Did you implement any of these ideas in your open plan office that worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.