- Posted by Jon Harju
- On September 23, 2019
The office space trend in recent years has moved away from cubicles to the open concept. Approximately 70% of companies have embraced this layout in an effort to boost innovation and collaboration (and reduce real estate costs).
But how productive and supportive are open concept work spaces for employees’ mental health?
How the open concept office can impact employees’ mental health
Lack of privacy: Working in an open concept can feel like you’re constantly on display — everyone can see your computer monitor, hear your phone conversations, and sense how productive you are being. This feeling that you have an audience can put pressure on employees to appear busy at all times – and researchers have found that this pressure is increasing their insecurity and stress.
On top of that, the lack of privacy also makes it more challenging to talk to your colleagues or manager confidentially about work or personal issues (i.e. your mental health).
Social isolation: Open concept seems like it should be better for collaboration, but researchers have discovered it leads to a 70% reduction in face-to-face interactions. Employees typically isolate themselves as best they can (i.e. wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible since everyone can see them. This creates a lonely work experience that often means employees don’t have the necessary support network at work that can be critical to their well-being and happiness.
Too many distractions: Noise is a top complaint for people who work in an open concept space. With the distractions of people talking, laughing, chewing, tapping, it’s harder to concentrate, reduces productivity and can contribute to higher stress levels.
4 solutions that make the open concept office better for employees
- Offer quiet rooms for employees to use when they need an environment without any distractions to think, write or plan, for example.
- Organize the team into pods to encourage collaboration on ideas and projects.
- Designate breakout rooms that allow for spaces to meet for confidential or private conversations i.e. speaking to your manager about a personal issue.
- Encourage and prompt managers to reach out to their employees in person regularly to check in and ask how they are doing.
A thoughtful workplace design
It may not be possible to throw up walls in your already-designed open office space, but there are modifications that can be made to improve the environment that will help employees function at their best.
Book a Snapclarity demo to see how it will transform the employee mental health experience.