This week I visited an industry conference: Bits, Bricks and behaviour. One of the take aways on productive working environments showed that open plan offices have failed to improve efficiency. Maybe the usage/m2 of office space went up, but productivity went down with 66%. The core of the problem is distraction through background noise.
It seems that people need an appropriate working environment that fits the job to be done. Since creative working environments popped up everywhere with lounge corners and barista outlets, it has not necessarily dealt with the problem of background noise. Often noise is a severe stress factor and distractor. Consciously and unconsciously people feel the need to escape from the office into the home office which offeres a different set of distractions.
Intuitively I always felt that a nice office would help boost productivity. I am not so sure if the transformation of an office into a club house is a sustainable solution. The philosophy of google to make sure people can work, relax, eat and exercise at the same place, might guarantee that people do not think about getting home soon, which is good for business I presume.
We live in a hyper connected world, which leaves little room for shutting down, reflection, and recharging of your batteries. Inspired people live longer and accomplish more. It seems that our senses are being overloaded 24 hours a day. I believe it attributes to the high level of burn-outs we see around us.
Silent workspaces might be the thing of the future. Since Bio-mimicry has attracted a lot of attention lately, it might be worthwhile to study the behaviour of ants. Have you ever seen a community of ants making a lot of noise?, yet they are a very productive species.