With open floor plans becoming so popular, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to focus on individual work. We put so much more attention on collaboration, that we are less efficient at sitting down and completing our own tasks, especially when that deadline is approaching.
Working in groups to come up with new and creative solutions is necessary. But there needs to be an area that the team can go to and put those new ideas into action. And without distraction.
There are two primary ways that an office can create that balance of collaborative (we) spaces, and focused, individual work (me) spaces. A distributed model spreads out isolated areas within the open floor design. This can be accomplished by using somewhat closed off cubicles with higher walls. Not only is this a fairly low cost way to allow for focus, but also allows the team to move quickly between the two different types of work areas. Even just a culture of understanding to respect others privacy when working can be enough to allow one to concentrate.
Another model for accommodating both styles of work is to create a quiet zone away from collaborative work areas. This could be a completely separate floor, or just a portion of the office that is tucked away from the noise. This way each worker can decide what the best place to work is depending on the specific project that they are engaged in.
When it comes to balancing the “me and we” spaces, flexibility is everything. Giving the team options and the ability to decide what works best for them and their particular piece of work is the most important thing. The best and most successful offices offer a range of options for its team. Even promoting a culture in which there is a respect for those that have their head down and are concentrated can make a huge difference in improving the balance.