I did promise a blog post about a related article, so here it is:
How A Bigger Lunch Table At Work Can Boost Productivity
Apparently, lots of big companies have discovered that employees are more productive when they work in nontraditional offices.
Although the title is about lunch tables, the overall story actually shows a bigger picture.
So, early this year, Atlassian installed heat and motion sensors to track when and how often every desk, room and table was used. The result? Desks were used only 20 percent of the workday; conference rooms an average of 40 percent, with peak use at midmorning.The pictures in the article show airy community spaces with comfortable seating: couches, armchairs, recliners, and bean bag chairs. Workers with laptop sit in many of those areas. You can definitely see how those spaces would be more appealing than regular desks. I certainly find I am more productive when I'm comfortable.
Simons says tracking employees' movements in an anonymous way will help guide choices to convert desk space into meeting rooms, or to stagger meetings to accommodate a growing staff.
"If we're using data to make an environment that people can be more productive in, ultimately that saves us money or helps us make more," he says.
Too much sharing tends to backfire, though:
But a productive workplace requires more than lots of open gathering spaces.
Christine Congdon is director of research communications at office design firm Steelcase, which has used video monitoring to study work habits for decades. She notes a recent backlash against open offices.
"If they don't have time to work individually, they fall into groupthink," she says.
Steelcase recommends clients create private, secluded spaces as well as comfortable places to meet in groups.
The need for variety sounds about right to me. Sometimes I find I am very productive surrounded by a busy coffee shop, and other times I need the quiet of home. Sometimes my desk is the best place to stay focused, and other times I hit my groove faster and more easily if I'm sitting more comfortably, such as on the couch.
I think it's a sign of progress that companies are starting to look at the need to vary workspaces, instead of forcing everyone into the same mold of a cubicle and desk. Those of you who work from home, what are your routines? How do you prefer to work -- or, like me, do you like to mix it up depending on your mood?
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