The workplace environment has been accredited by many as being crucial to organizational success. One aspect, in particular, is office design, where a closed-office approach has traditionally dominated. However, modern business has seen an opposing concept that involves open landscapes and has seen the momentum shift significantly. An open office environment involves a design that does not incorporate walls dividing each employee's workstations. Due to the lack of walls within the floor plan, there is a distinct lack of smaller, individual offices. Most organizations now have open office environments as more companies buy into its various benefits.
In the same breadth, ergonomics has become a staple of workplace conversations as companies and employees seek to change their offices to better cater to their well-being. The concept sees offices, workstations, and components designed around their users. It is being embraced by many businesses because of its many advantages aside from significantly improving employees' overall health. When applied in an open office environment, the concept can see your employees' productivity rise and your company's performance. Before seeing how you can change your open office environment
Some of the benefits of an open office environment include:
Improved company culture
As is to be expected, open office layouts significantly increase employees' interactions as everyone is in view of each other. By removing defined walls within the office plan, employees are encouraged to engage each other in constructive activities. They are more likely to talk to each other, developing a culture that eventually defines the workspace. Moreover, employees from different teams will also interact with those from others, reducing the likelihood of divisions within your staff team.
Promotes collaboration and innovation
If your company values employees working with each other, open office environments are for you. The layout also significantly impacts collaboration between employees as they are free to engage each other. As such, innovation may be improved as they brainstorm on related projects during the operations, making progress on complex projects. As employees share ideas during the day, innovation within your company may experience a significant upturn.
Improves employee health.
Another significant advantage of an open office environment involves the well-being of the staff. The design is developed to increase natural light within the office, which is widely acknowledged as superior to artificial lighting. A lack of walls within the floor plan is meant to improve the reach of natural light resulting in a positive impact on the mood of staff members. Moreover, the approach encourages employees to move about the office, significantly improving their health by reducing the time spent sitting at their desks. Finally, as the well-being of employees improves, so does their productivity, resulting in staff members that are more driven to perform and excel, with apparent benefits to company revenue.
However, it is essential to consider all the factors as what works for one company may not necessarily work in yours. It is because, despite its apparent advantages, an open office environment can end up being an obstacle to the success of employees and the firm.
Open office environments may not always be practical for reasons like:
They can get very loud and distracting. The layout promotes openness within the workspace by removing physical walls between employee workstations. However, the lack of barriers can prove distracting as conversations around the office can easily be heard. In addition, employees are more likely to move from one workstation to another for interactions that may be more distracting than productive. If you are an employee that prefers the seclusion and peace that traditional closed office environments offer, an open one can considerably reduce your productivity.
Increased likelihood of spreading infectious diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic recently made bare a significant shortcoming of open office environments as they were identified as a potential cause of spreading the virus through interactions. The approach is not meant for seclusion, meaning frequent employee relations can be catalysts of mass outbreaks. It can be made even worse if your workplace is poorly ventilated, as infectious diseases are better transmitted.
Having understood how an open office environment can improve your organization and hinder its progress, you can now appreciate how you can modify it with ergonomics.
So, how can you transform your open office environment to align with ergonomics?
Focus on lighting
It is widely acknowledged that lighting is crucial to how your employees feel around the office. Poor lighting can considerably affect your mood, causing stress, anxiety, and even morale. You might be tempted to assume that there is not much to consider in an open office environment as the layout naturally allows for more light around the room. However, this is not true, as a slight misstep can make the layout more of an obstacle. To incorporate ergonomics, you should ensure that your workstation's monitor does not directly face the window, as this may result in glare from the light forcing you to squint.
In addition, you should also ensure that you do not directly face the window, as too much light can considerably reduce your ability to see the monitor. However, in case you are not so lucky to be near a natural light source. In that case, you can ergonomically transform your office space by using artificial lighting, where you should prioritize one that simulates it. You need to ensure that the light is strategically placed to reduce eye strain and glare.
Introduce standing desks
Standing desks have taken the modern business by storm as companies flock to replace their employees’ traditional desks because of the multiple aspects in which they improve your well-being. An open office environment means that employees are more likely to interact with others at other workstations. As such, they may find themselves leaning over their desks to work; this can affect their health as complaints of back pain increase. Standings desks like Flexispot’s Kana Bamboo ensure that you can stand upright and still manage to accomplish tasks at your workstation. With its higher loading capacity, you can place most standard office equipment while its lifting system ensures it remains stable at any adjustable height. It also remains quiet while adjusting it, ensuring that other employees around you are not distracted. Standing desks are one of the most important things you can add to an open office environment to encourage collaboration. Employees will frequently interact without having to sit and stand to work repeatedly.
The first open office environments used plants to create divisions between the different workstations or even to create pathways without walls. Nowadays, most companies have plants in their offices because of their benefits. Introducing plants around an open office environment can result in cleaner air as their respiration process acts as a natural filter of accumulated air resulting in a better workplace. In addition, plants can be stimulating to view around the office resulting in employees remaining attentive to their work and improved mood. Lastly, taking care of a plant can be a source of accomplishment for you as you work to keep it watered. But what if you’re bad at taking care of plants? Fear not because there are many options that you can pick between, such as the famous Peace Lily, which is preferred for requiring minimal attention to survive.
Incorporate ergonomic chairs
An often-ignored part of offices, selecting suitable chairs is essential because it may be the difference between productivity and constant back pain. In an open office environment, the temperatures may often fluctuate; in this regard, an ergonomic chair like Flexispot’s Soutien office chair will ensure sufficient airflow across your body while working with its mesh framework. In addition, it offers lumbar support that prevents back injury while its adjustments are smooth and quiet. An ergonomic office chair will significantly improve your work experience in an open office environment with additional health benefits. Incorporating ergonomics in your workplace may save you from issues like fatigue and repetitive strain injury.
Bring in ergonomic accessories
You can also transform your open work environment by introducing accessories that modify the workstation for better ergonomics, like monitor arms that let you adjust the positioning of your PC's screen for reduced neck strain and injuries. Neck pain is among the most common workplace injuries; an open work environment can only worsen this. It encourages frequent movement and interaction, meaning you may find yourself working while standing; if a standing desk is not an option, a monitor arm will ensure you use the right viewing angles throughout the day. You can also incorporate ergonomic mice that let you place your hand in its natural position for reduced strain. Traditional ones put it in an awkward position that can leave you injured.
Regulate the temperature and consider the office color
Open office environments mean that most employees share one room with individual workstations. As such, you must regulate the temperature because it can get too high or fall too much, resulting in uncomfortable working conditions for everyone and affecting productivity. You need to be attentive to the color you apply to the office's walls, as brighter colors are generally stimulating and warm. In contrast, darker ones encourage thought and a sense of seriousness.