I've been thinking, the shift toward open-plan offices may not be as effective as we originally thought. Companies continuously shed cubicle-infested office spaces for open-plan offices because privacy is said to stifle creativity. Forget the worry of stifling creativity when lack of privacy inhibits productivity in every sense.
The open-plan office space revolves around the assumption that everyone has the same personality and objectives where the coworkers you’re rubbing elbows with will only nudge you when they have something constructive and valid to say, as opposed to distracting you from your work for the sake of distraction.
Just to give you a sense of how distracting distractions truly are for your work and productivity, I found a surprising fun fact; according to a University of California study, it takes the average worker 25 minutes to get back into focus and resume a task after an interruption.
So each time any number of the different personalities surrounding you decide to either tell you about their day, what they had for lunch, a rumor they may have heard or crave to tell you an amazing Snapple fact they just read, you will need 25 minutes to resume productivity. Not very productive for the company now is it?
You’re probably thinking I’m some sort of cynic but the truth is in an already overly distracting society with very minimal (if any) availability for privacy, we need to find some way of coping with distractions.
Now, I’m not saying we should resort back to the cubicles galore era of business practices but there just has to be a happy medium between the two extremes right?
Well, here come some solutions. One suggestion is to establish a set of symbols that alert others around you that you’re busy and should not be interrupted such as a red flag for stop and green to go. But, this system may not stop the worst of distractors.
So, I personally feel the best solution would be to create two sides to an office. One side that is closed off and strictly for those who are working on projects that need a ton of privacy and open areas where people need to bounce ideas off each in order to be more productive. Sounds like a decent idea right?
But it’s not the only method so tell me, how do you cope with workplace distractions? What’s your system?