Office ProductivityHave you or your employees had trouble focusing at work? Your office environment might be to blame.  A new study done by Global design firm, Gensler found that most modern workspaces hinder employees’ ability to focus and be productive.

They found that low cubicles and open-plan layouts compromise employees’ ability to concentrate and focus effectively. The study surveyed 2,035 employees at a variety of firms, and found that the most effective and productive workplaces include both collaborative and quiet areas. The ability to focus was also improved when employees were offered a choice where they’d like to work.

Companies tend to like open-plan office designs because they typically consume less real estate than the traditional cubicle farms. However, according to Diane Hopskins, an executive director of Gensler, even the workers who are fortunate enough to have private offices often struggle with electronic distractions. The study found that only 54% of those given private offices said that their space was ideal for focusing effectively, and 38% of those in private offices reported that their concentration was often disturbed by others.

Employees are now spending more time on focused projects such as writing code or reading emails than they did in the past years.  This suggests that poor focus might be associated with the fact that it takes longer to complete thought-intensive tasks.

Additionally, the study supported the “activity-based work movement,” which states that employees should be able to choose their work environment, such as meeting rooms, desks or café-like areas, based on the type of tasks they’re working on. Employees who were given the choice of where to work actually spent approximately 70% of their time in the office. The companies that offered this, along with tools for working remotely, found their employees to be 12% more satisfied with their jobs.