Productivity: Fads (hoteling)
and Facts (work less)
Of course it was just so
to cut your office space cost by 20% having people work from home one day a week, let them forage for a space every day, carrying their portrait of little Jimmy and Suzie with them to find to
today’s 5 square feet of
turf. Get rid of offices and cubicles, shrink office footprints in an age of expensive rent prices. Wait, even better have them all work at the same table interacting endlessly, building relationships, innovating, creating, inventing. All a great idea if you are willing to ignore all the actual facts.
Here’s the facts:
From a study done by the Queensland University of Technology 90% of employees working in an open floor plan had
high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and more job turnover
A Danish study of 2,400 employees found that people working in
fully open offices took 62% more sick days!
Mathew Davis organizational psychologist reviewed over a 100 studies of open office environments he found that they had a
negative effect on attention spans, creative thinking, productivity, and job satisfaction.
A University of Sydney study of open offices found the
#1 top complaint was noise
The net of the article was the trade off of closeness was not a good trade for the illusion of collaboration because of noise.
Noise = lower productivity and higher absentee rates.
For years we have known when you are interrupted from a difficult task it can take
15-20 minutes to fully regain your thought pattern and concentration.
Open office spaces are an interruption festival!
Co-locating teams in the same area works
but only if,
they have their own quiet space to work in!
According to the Harvard Business Review article by Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber :
When the firms switched to open offices,
face-to-face interactions fell by 70%.
We work with people who have told us they go out to their cars to have a conversation. There are never enough huddle rooms.
Sticking with our theme of boneheaded ill-conceived notions lets assume all work is still piece-work on an assembly line like it was in 1965. The more hours you bolt a fender on a Chevelle the more cars that get built and of course therefore the more productive you are! So the more hours I have you work the more work that gets done…if you are on an assembly line 60 years ago! But if you are paid to think, to problem solve, to create the assembly line parallel goes out the window.
Here’s the facts:
Time off and limited hours increase productivity to wit: Microsoft Japan experimented with a four day work week it only
boosted productivity by 40%!
Tons of research proves LIMITED work hours, peppered with significant time off works. From Dr. Jeffery Pfeffer’s ground breaking book
Dying for a Paycheck
every hour over 48 in a week, you are developing a chronic illness, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease.
Sadly Americans have taken less vacation time for the last 15 years
In 2015 55% of Americans did NOT use all their vacations. 84% of executives in the US have cancelled vacations to work.
Flying in the face of all the research that says breaks and disconnecting increases creativity, engagement, and productivity.
We are working more, less engaged and getting sicker, dying younger and less satisfied with our work. Productivity is dropping so the cure is work more hours? Madness!
The illusion is that business is based in fact and research not myth and conjecture. When it comes to office design and time off we are operating at the level of superstition and 50-year-old paradigms.
As always we invite your comments.