The ultimate workplace luxury: The ability to focus

The argument for focus

While many companies are attempting to lure employees with the promise of cool perks and fancy workplace designs, one of the greatest luxuries in open plan offices is having somewhere quiet and comfortable to focus.

While research proves that collaboration boosts creativity and productivity, more than 50% of our day is still spent on focused work. But the benefit of quiet contemplation is equally important for creativity.

23 minutes to refocus

It's often difficult to concentrate in a line of workstations or at a collaborative seating area. Once you’re in the "flow" it can take up to 23 minutes to regain it after an interruption. Shockingly a Leesman report has revealed that just 30% of employees surveyed are happy with the noise levels in their workplace.

Providing options

Activity Based Working is a workplace strategy which recognises that through the course of any day people engage in many different activities, and that they need different types of work settings to accommodate these activities.

Attractive, open collaboration areas have received the most attention in recent years, but designers are now starting to turn their thoughts to focused work settings as employees demand somewhere quiet to think.

Read on to find out what a successful focus space looks like.

What does a successful focus space look like?

There isn’t necessarily a quick fix. Creating a successful focused work space is much more than just providing a quiet desk or arm chair in a corner. It requires considered planning and design:

Privacy – sight and sound

The most effective spaces are those that combine a degree of visual privacy with acoustic treatment to reduce interruptions. Noise can travel across space, and being out of sight doesn’t always mean being out of earshot. High or mid-level screens can include soft upholstery to absorb sound, and the cleverest solutions now incorporate leading edge technology such as nanofibre-rich substrates which absorb greater levels of noise pollution. Thick rugs and clever acoustic lighting can further soften reverberations and trap sound waves.

Physical comfort

Sitting for longer periods of time means we need to address ergonomics in a more scientific way. Considering the angles of the human body in relation to seating and desking is essential for a place where people will spend any more than the shortest period of time. Physical discomfort can be very distracting. Adding somewhere to put your feet up or rest your coffee cup only enhances the experience.

Info at your finger tips

Connectivity should be a given in focused work spaces. People won’t work somewhere if they can’t take their technology with them. The need to access documents online and charge devices is constant regardless of location. Connection points need to be easily accessed and seamless. An ergonomic table to rest your laptop or phone is also helpful.

The user experience and wellbeing

Research shows that the aesthetic appeal of our surroundings is actually important to our mental wellbeing. Factors such as visual appeal, fabrics, colours and tactile elements can really enhance the user experience.

Gensler recently surveyed over 4000 people to understand how design affects the human experience. This study revealed that design does impact behaviour, and that it’s important to design spaces to deliver great experiences. Feeling at home in your space can assist in achieving greater focus. More thoughtfully designed spaces will also encourage greater occupancy.

Workspace designers are starting to place more emphasis on this element of design. Fabrics and colours previously only seen in home interiors are showing up in workplaces, with lush fabrics such as velvet and leather becoming more common. Sophisticated colour palettes are also more popular as designers appeal to a more discerning worker. An example is found at the Generator co-working space in Auckland, New Zealand, which is sleek and contemporary with a rich and slightly quirky colour palette.

Luxury? Or necessity?

As organisations learn more about the value of providing areas for all types of work activity, they are also becoming more informed about caring for both the physical and mental health of their people. Noise and interruptions outside of our control can cause real stress. Providing well considered options for focused work is one way to mitigate this.

The aim should be to offer a variety of designed-for-purpose workspaces, breakout zones and focus workspaces with the right level of acoustic absorption where we can talk and work without having to raise our voices to be heard or to whisper quietly to avoid being indiscreet.

We're certain we'll be seeing more of focus spaces for private and deep concentration in workplaces everywhere as organisations embrace the necessity of providing for focus work.

Read more below about successful solutions for focus work.

Contact us to learn more about focused work solutions

Solutions for focused work