If you manage or own a business that uses an open office layout, you may be wondering "What's the best furniture for our work environment?"
Perhaps you’ve recently relocated the office or want a bit of an upgrade.
Here are some tips to help you find the best furniture for open offices, both for collaborative functions and for privacy and noise reduction.
Office Furniture for Employee Collaboration
The main reason most businesses use open office formats is that they hope it will improve employee collaboration and make work easier. In some instances, this works, but there are downsides.
To really get the most from your open office, you need to think about it strategically. First, decide what kind of collaboration you want to foster, and think about these points:
- What teams need to work together?
- Do employees need to constantly converse during the course of the workday or do they only meet intermittently?
- Will you have clients and contractors coming to the office for meetings or presentations?
- What age are your employees?
- What furniture are you keeping from your current inventory and what do you need to purchase brand new?
- How much flexibility do you desire? Can you make some furniture pieces multipurpose?
- What is your furniture budget?
Once you resolve the questions above, it’s time to go shopping. Depending on the answers you arrive at, you may wish to purchase some of these types of furnishings that work well in an open office:
- Modular tables that can accommodate group meetings or can be used as work stations for several workers simultaneously, ideally on casters
- Rolling chairs that can go from zone to zone easily and with minimal noise
- Partner work stations, often seen in drafting table format, for two people to work across from each other
- Bookcases, screens, or large chalkboards to visually separate work areas
- Sofas with high backs that offer some screening and privacy
- Furniture that can be moved from the work area to a meeting area or double as reception seating, such as ottomans or cocoon chairs
- Clip-on or table lamps that go quickly from one zone to another versus overhead lighting
Challenges Faced by Open Offices
The suggestions above offer lots of flexibility for collaborative work but there’s one catch: most businesses don’t need their workers to be collaborating all day long, and open office layouts can actually be a detriment to the workplace.
When workers get in the habit of talking out loud in their open office, they tend to do it without thinking for non-work topics too.
Both work chatter and personal talk are disruptive to people who need silence & concentration to get stuff done. Every time a worker is interrupted and then has to refocus on the task at hand, they lose up to 23 minutes of productive work time, according to a study conducted by Berlin’s Humboldt University.
That’s time that is ultimately reflected in your company’s bottom line.
Work disruption isn’t just limited to talk either. Open work environments subject employees to the noise of office machinery, doors and drawers opening and closing, and often, other employees’ music or computer sounds.
Passersbys create visual disturbances, and there are issues with food smells, perfume, and the spread of illness. A remarkable 58 percent of employees who work in open offices say they need more quiet time, and more than half of high-performance workers report there are too many distractions in the workplace.
Open office disturbances have been shown to increase employee anxiety and sick time. Research demonstrates that open office workers take up to 62 percent more sick time than people in traditional offices. In addition to reducing productivity, these disruptions may affect employee retention and recruitment, particularly with older employees who are used to a more conventional work environment with walls and doors.
Office Furniture That Improves Productivity
Fortunately, there are solutions to the disturbances faced in most open office environments. You can maintain your collaborative open workspaces and still offer employees peace from visual and auditory distractions with the use of office phone booths.
An office phone booth is pretty much what it sounds like: a telephone booth-like structure that affords the user privacy and noise screening. One of the biggest boons associated with these products is they can be integrated into an existing open office floor plan with little disruption and at a relatively low cost, compared to moving or adding new construction.
If you rent your office space, the phone booth is portable and can move with you should you relocate.
Zenbooth makes attractive products with natural wood exteriors in a variety of sizes and that come with a number of bonuses:
- Eco-friendly construction
- Fast shipping to your door
- Easy installation in a day or less
- Helpful sales staff
- 30-day return policy
- Three-year warranty
Zenbooths offer features that let you customize the booth for your business’s needs. The Comfort Booth is designed for one or two people and is perfect for private phone calls. An adjustable desk option lets you add a work surface that can be raised or lowered to accommodate both sitting and standing.
The Executive Booth XL fits two to three people simultaneously. It’s ideal for quiet projects or for discreet meetings, such as between management and employees. Like the Comfort Booth, this model also includes a work surface.
For larger groups, the Executive Room by Zenbooth permits four to six people to work together without disturbing the rest of the office. This room is great for client meetings, group discussions, employee training, and brainstorming sessions. You can bring your own furniture to configure it however you need at any point in time.
Each Zenbooth model is equipped with the details you need to conduct business as if you were at your own desk, including:
- Thick wall construction with recycled materials to dampen sound and ensure conversations stay private
- Perforated aluminum panels that absorb echoes
- Self-closing aluminum door with a magnetic latch and window
- Ventilation fans
- Shatterproof ceiling made of plexiglass
- Power and data compatibility with two USB outlets, two 100V electrical outlets, and a grommet through which to run data and telephone cables
Your open office may allow employee collaboration, but it could also be killing productivity with workers who need quiet concentration. Management may be pulling their hair out trying to find places for confidential conversations. Employees may be angry about not just the distracting sounds around them but the inability to make a private phone call or to talk to a client without background noise.
To find out more about how Zenbooth could solve your open office furniture concerns, contact us today. In less than two months, you could have the best of both worlds: an open office for group work and places where employees and management can work privately without distraction.