open space working

Open offices are overrated.

When people are talking about big companies, one of the reasons why they want to work for them, besides reputation is an open space office. You probably saw how they look. Designed to attract people, but something is missing. It seems that productivity is not good, where is the problem?

 Recently, Facebook added a new building MK21. It is an expansion of Facebook’s Menlo Park campus.  It’s a 525,000 square-foot building, designed by Frank Gehry. About 3,000 people can work in this open space office. According to some reports, Facebook spent around $300 million. The fundamental thing, for the company, about this is to get new and fresh tech geeks and increase their productivity. An idea was improving communication. Facebook’s Chief People Officer said,

“It creates an environment where people can collaborate; they can innovate together. There’s a lot of spontaneity in the way people bump into each other, just a really fun collaborative space.” 

After many surveys, the results were different. The truth is that employees do not like open space office concept. Why?

The two most important are pressure and distraction. Harvard Business School Associate Professor Ethan Bernstein published a study in 2018, analyzing open workspaces.

“If you’re sitting in a sea of people, for instance, you might not only work hard to avoid distraction (by, for example, putting on big headphones) but because you have an audience at all times, also feel pressure to look busy.”

-Professor Bernstein

Always go for productivity, not efficiency. Some companies are starting to create small teams, with their own space. The ideal number of team members, according to the book Harvard Business Press is seven. The best thing is to separate teams, following their jobs. Every team has a lead person, who works side by side with other designers, developers and marketing experts, etc. It all depends on the team and their job description.

Each team needs to have all the necessary equipment to work in their office, such as whiteboards, desks, space to relax, etc. The Information Overload Research Group estimates that this type of problems cost US companies about 1 trillion dollars per year. Smaller groups are more productive. Working as a team, but without distraction from others. 

It’s time to change our perception and to try something new. Sometimes, a good idea is to invest in your team.

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