Workplace distractions – is working from home really the answer?

Workplace design

By Leeson Medhurst, Head of 360 Workplace

According to an article posted last week on the Real Business website, a recent survey found that 65 per cent of employees said they felt more productive working from home compared to working in an office. 

When looking at the factors attributed to negatively impacting workplace productivity, such as co-workers dropping by, noisy co-workers, mobile phones, and pointless meetings, it’s clear that home-based working isn’t the solution to these complaints; it’s offering employees the choice of where and how they work. 

Technological advancements and digital connectivity has enabled many workers to adopt a ‘work from anywhere’ attitude, whether that be a coffee shop, hotel or indeed working from home. However, well-designed workplaces still play a fundamental role to all businesses and need to provide the facilities required for people to complete their everyday tasks; not be somewhere to avoid when you’re looking for a distraction-less day. 

Long gone are the days of sitting at the same desk for eight hours a day. The modern workplace needs to facilitate a transient workforce by providing a variety of working platforms which support specific activities. Those ‘noisy co-workers’ which are referred to in the survey may need somewhere to collaborate effectively, whilst those who are distracted by mobile phones and interruptions from their co-workers require a quiet concentration space in order to fulfil their task.  

It’s imperative to understand your business, your people and your future objectives to create a workplace which is tailored to your business requirements. After undertaking a workplace study to better understand their business, Fourfront Group’s open-plan London office can host up to 160 people across 10,500 sq ft and is a 95% agile working environment. Providing a diverse range of working platforms, including project war rooms, part-open project pods, a quiet ‘heads down’ space and an Innovation Room – for seminars, project pitches, client meetings and bi-weekly yoga sessions – the flexible workspace enables users to work in zones which are applicable for the task in hand. The inclusive nature of the design supports collaboration across teams, encourages social interaction and facilitates productivity.

Activity-based workplaces not only enhance employee performance, they also improve space utilisation. It’s been estimated that 40% of staff within a typical workplace are based in the office all of the time, which means the other 60% of the workforce are nomadic and transient. Therefore, why do businesses still work to a 1:1 desk-to-person ratio when nearly half of their workforce aren’t in the office at the same time? The same goes for meeting rooms. Is the boardroom really a necessary requirement? Or would a flexible work area which could be used for multiple purposes, such as meetings, training, presentations, (and even weekly exercise classes!) be a better use of the same amount of space?

Taking the time at the front end of your next workplace project will allow you to make better decisions for both your workforce and your business. By undertaking a workplace study, weekly occupancy patterns can be analysed to understand space requirements. This means you would be equipped to make informed decisions based on scientific data, and will provide insight into what working platforms are required to efficiently support your workforce. The workplace should be designed to encourage people to want to work there; not thought of as a place to avoid when wanting to be productive.

Read our new guide on activity-based working here.