Have you ever felt that something happening in the world just wasn't right, but you weren't brave enough to express your opinion?

In the late 1980s, I had a client in New York City who was removing private offices and replacing them with an "open office." Management touted the change as a method of improving communication and collaboration. I was highly skeptical and believed the real reason was an effort to decrease real estate costs, but I was too timid to express my concern. (Ironically, that company is no longer in business!)

A July 2018 article entitled "The impact of the ‘open’ workspace on human collaboration" published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences used empirical evidence rather than self-reported data to prove that "open offices" didn't turn out the way they were promoted.

The study was conducted in the offices of an unnamed Fortune 500 company. Its employees wore people analytics badges that tracked conversations through sensors which gave the researchers data that they then compared against changes in online communication. Rather than an increase in communication and collaboration, the researchers found that conversations via email and instant messaging increased significantly after the open office redesign. For most employees, face-to-face interaction decreased and overall productivity also took a hit.

On the other hand, I had a discussion this week with a client who said, "This probably doesn't make sense to you, but I'm more productive when I work at Starbucks." Actually, it makes perfect sense, because her office is very cluttered and is located in her home with a husband, children, and pets -- and all the distractions that naturally result in that scenario. Sitting at Starbucks, she HAS to focus in order to work -- and the distractions there are not related to her emotions generated by her clutter and her family!

Another client is in sales. Unfortunately, the company where she works doesn't provide her a fixed office -- she just has to "camp out" wherever there is space. She has a home office, but generally, she's only there evenings and weekends. She often works in her car or in a public place. Here's the catch: She really prefers paper, but dragging paper around from place to place has real limitations, so we're working together to figure out a "hybrid" office environment so she can accomplish her work and enjoy her life.

Few workspaces are perfect, and as we often say at Productive Environment Institute, "You can have anything you want, but not everything!" The key to a productive workspace is being intentional! What kind of a workspace do you need to be the most productive? As always, you can use our 5-Step Productive Environment Process™ to find out -- and if you need some help to brainstorm more effectively, let us know!

To make your workspace even more productive by reducing the amount of paper that lands there every day, join us in the online workshop we offer. You can find the details, scheduling information, and registration at http://www.TameYourPaperTiger.com

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at https://productiveenvironment.com/pe-gameplan