DESIGNING A GREAT WORKPLACE EXPERIENCE _Why„working from home“ could be an alternative to „working in theoffice“ but is not necessarily a betterone?

As we most of us working in an office, it is generally agreed that our performance at work is strongly shaped by our work environment. And one very important factor at workplace is How the Office is designed and how well we do our job based in that. Going back in time, some 50 to 55 years ago the typical office consisted of a vast open space, with rows and rows of identical desks crammed tightly together. Employees were afforded little in the way of privacy, which was by design. The bullpen office, as it was known, was a natural extension of the factory floor. The goal was to keep everyone visible, as a means of ensuring that they stayed on task. Since then different attempts were done in order to improve work experience in the office.

Around 1968-70 Cubicles were introduced to address the need for personal space and privacy. Unfortunately they achieved neither. In the 1970s, the average worker was allotted 46 square meters – office space. In 2010, that number was down to 18 square meters. Privacy is hardly fairing much better, while a cubicle’s panels may prevent employees from making eye contact, privacy consists of more than just not seeing someone who sits a few feet away. Acoustic privacy is equally vital. Hearing someone you can’t see can often be more of a distraction than having them in full view.

Studies show that working in a cubicle can be mentally draining psychologically stressful, and physiologically harmful. Being subject to constant disruption, high noise levels, and a lack of personal space elevates our anxiety levels and raises our blood pressure, which takes a toll on the body’s immune system. When employees are continuously stressed, their motivation, performance, and satisfaction are bound to plummet, because they have less energy to bring to their work.

To be fair, the alternatives to cubicles have plenty of downsides of their own. Private offices eat up a lot of real estate, seal employees off from one another, and introduce barriers to communication. Frequently, the higher up in an organization you go, the more space you’re allotted and the more inaccessible you become. Status begets isolation, which can have a crippling effect on teams whose work depends on collaboration. Innovation, it is often argued, comes from spontaneous interaction. It’s hard to have those unplanned encounters when seeing other people requires an Outlook meeting invitation.

In recent years, a growing number of organizations have begun rejecting both the cubicle and the corner/private office, embracing an open-plan layout. Advocates contend that placing everyone in the same location promotes collaboration and fosters better communication. It’s an egalitarian approach that affords every staffer the same amount of space. In a world where success is predicated upon effective team-work, what better way of making sure people work together than by eliminating obstacles to communication and ensuring that everyone is treated equally?

It’s a noble idea. But does it work? The research raises some serious concerns. While open-plan designs may increase communication between colleagues, they often do so at a cost to individual work. When our office is riddled with disruptions, we end up consuming the very mental resources we need to think clearly. Ironically, the frustration we experience when we’re not getting our work done inevitably interferes with our ability to collaborate. It’s hard to feel cheery toward teammates when you constantly feel like you’re behind.

Some also question whether having colleagues so accessible is really such a good thing. Many studies show that people have shorter and more superficial conversations in open offices because they’re self-conscious about being overheard. So sure, open spaces might get you a larger number of conversations, but not all communication is equally valuable. And even if communication were an unqualified good, it’s worth remembering that collaboration represents just one facet of what it means to be productive. All of which should make one thing abundantly clear:  If Cubicles, Private Offices and Open Space are none of them the best options to design an office, what is a company to do? Well… alternatives exist, it’s just up to each organization to decide what is better for them, for instance as the technology now allows “Working from home” could be a good idea to consider.


Working from home is a concept which started to gain more and more popularity in companies from all sort of industries. Many people agree that “A workforce culture based on long hours at the office with little regard for family or community does not inevitably lead to strong productivity or innovation,” and also that “Technology is great; it helps us do things more efficiently and cheaper. But it has also led to a breakdown in human interaction that is bad not only for humankind in general, but for business. Therefore there’s much of debate about this. Instead of asking whether employees are more productive at home or at work – to which the obvious answer is, it depends on the specific individual and the particular task – what we should have been asking is:

What home environments can teach us about building a better workplace?

Numerous studies have found that in many cases, employees who have the option of telecommuting are more productive than their office-bound counterparts. But what is it about working from home that often boosts our output? And more important: How do we apply those insights to the office so that employees can be more effective at work?

Benefits of telecommuting

In fairness, some comforts of home just can’t be replicated, no matter how hard a company tries. Take shaving 2 hours off an employee’s commute. Eliminating travel time reduces employees’ stress levels and allows them to spend the best hours of their day doing their job. It’s a legitimate benefit that deserves serious consideration. But there’s more to working from home than simply less travel. Consider access to a quiet, private space, for example. It’s impossible to excel at challenging mental work when we’re under a constant barrage of e-mails, conference calls, and meetings. Our brains can only handle so much. The cognitive bandwidth we each have is limited, which is why distractions can be so harmful. Allowing disruptions to consume our attention leaves us with fewer resources to attend to the work that matters. Workplace distractions also slow us down more than we might recognize. A quick visit from a colleague might only take 30 seconds but the cognitive reverberations of that diversion can last much longer.

A University of California-Irvine study found that when we’re distracted from an activity in which we are fully immersed, it takes us average of more than 20 minutes just to regain our previous momentum unlike in the workplace, there’s also less pressure in a quiet home environment to multitask.

While we like to believe that we’re good at multitasking, research suggests it’s rarely an effective strategy. What appears to us as tackling several activities at once often involves simply shuffling between tasks, for which there are serious consequences. When we multitask, our performance suffers, and our stress levels spike. In part, it’s because redirecting our attention from one task to another depletes our cognitive resources, leaving us with less mental energy than if we had simply devoted our full attention to one activity at a time. Researchers are also finding that chronic multitaskers – those of us who can’t help but read e-mails while talking on the phone for example – are especially prone to experiencing boredom, anxiety and depression.

Another benefit of working from home: personalization. At home we get to control many aspects of our environment – everything from the setup of our office to the lighting of our desk to the temperature in our room-which improves our comfort level and allows us to direct our focus to our work. But personal comfort isn’t the only reason personalization is important. Human beings are territorial animals. When we have the freedom to shape our surroundings, we experience a heightened sense of personal control, which reduces stress and improves our confidence. In contrast, believing that we lack control over our environment leads to a decline in motivation. Psychologists have found that organizations that encourage employees to customize their work-spaces tend to have happier workers. Not only does decorating an office make employees feel more comfortable, it also promotes a sense of personal ownership and belonging.

This is how you personalize your office desk.

When we work from home (telework), we also have access to restorative experiences, like glancing out a window, going out for a run, or taking a nap. At most organizations, opportunities like these are rare. Having  the freedom to recharge in ways that many workplaces discourage, undoubtedly plays a role in facilitating a telecommuter’s productivity. It’s no wonder so many employees believe they are more productive from their home office. It’s because in many cases, they are. When we’re placed in an environment that’s conducive to complex thinking, our minds respond. But the real lesson of telecommuting, the one that every CEO would do well to consider, is that there’s something deeply wrong with the design of a workplace when the only way for an employee to feel productive is to physically leave the building.

Howevere teleworking could even turn into something more harmful, it depends a lot on what kind of business a company does. As there are couple of advantages and disadvantages in teleworking about which the company’s leadership must be aware of and likewise they must share these features with their employees. Home working clearly opens up a new range of possibilities for the way businesses can work and structure themselves, so Companies must consider offering this work alternative anyway but in a good balance with the type of business they are doing.  From observation at my own workplace some of characteristics of working from home are the ones as shown in table 1 below.

When coming in early  staying late, and working weekends become implicit requirements for keeping up, this much is clear: The current model is broken. So what’s the alternative?

Combining these new trends at workplaces, the best alternative for any business is to combine the 2 ways of work (working at office + working at home) finding a balance taking benefits from both sides and just take a Hybrid working approach.

A shift towards home working doesn’t mean employees have to work only at home. Often splitting time between home, or other remote locations and the workplace is the most productive solution. You may want your staff to provide feedback on their working from home experience to get them involved in the process of developing a hybrid working policy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Built with

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: