By: Naomi Matlow
How would you design your dream office environment? Do you envision a nourishing, comfortable second home? Or would you want a space that is minimalist in design to maximize productivity and practicality for minimal distractions? Do you dream of a place to be continuously inspired or a place to just get work done and leave at the end of the day?
There is no real right or wrong way to design your office environment, but according to Jeff Bradford of Fast Company, “creative office spaces may actually be hampering–not helping–their employees’ creative abilities.” He goes on to argue that the “open office” trend (tear down those felt cubicle walls!) may in fact be a hindrance to productivity, creativity, and performance.
Ten years ago, the Journal of Environmental Psychology conducted a study on the recent cultural shift to open concept office spaces. They found that irrelevant speech and noise contributed to “mental workload, poor performance, stress, and fatigue.” Yet there is something to these communal work spaces that encourage socialization and open sharing of ideas and inspiration, right?
Perhaps a little too ironically, I am sitting in my sister’s Manhattan coworking lounge as we speak. To my left are a gaggle of laptop workers wearing soundproof headphones, behind me a very competitive ping pong game is occuring, in front me a serious meeting is in progress inside a glass box, and to my right there is a lively group having a happy hour around some free pilsner on tap. Cheers!
Is this good or bad for my productivity and creative thinking? I’m still unsure… There is plenty of natural light which has proven to increase creativity and positive moods. There are also plenty of flourishing green plants, which research has proven to influence productivity and lower stress. There are also lots of people, objects, and colors to look at in order to help get the brain moving and thinking. Like most things in life, it turns out it’s all about moderation. Research has suggested that some background noise is good for performance in some individuals. But how much is too much?
Natural light. Greenery. A mixture of public social spaces and private quiet quarters. A place that is homey but not quite home. The ideal office environment is a complicated balancing act. Ultimately what really matters is a space that works for you. And that space may change as the project, your role, or you do. Or maybe you prefer not to have an office at all and that’s cool too. The novelty of hopping between coffee shops and workspaces can also help boost productivity and focus. If you’re thinking of making the world your office, here’s where we’re living and working Unsettled style 🙂