Last month, I went to the office for the first time in over a year.Nice to see colleagues and novel Don’t make my own lunch. But after a while, I wanted to go home again-because I had to finish some work.

The office building is designed for people to work. The home “office” we hurriedly built (mine is a small table in the corner of the bedroom) is not. However, I don’t think I’m the only one who has discovered that I can accomplish certain elements of my work more efficiently at home—a fact that tells us some important information about office design in the 21st century.

I am not a denier in the office. In fact, I am a fan.Have a A lot of evidence Indicate the importance of colleagues meeting in person. Without an office, we would not meet a colleague we haven’t seen for a long time while drinking a cup of tea, nor would we overheard conversations that inspire new ideas or cooperation plans. I realized that I missed colleagues with whom I had never worked directly.

research shows These “weak ties” are valuable-people do not cooperate closely, but still understand each other over time.An awkward attempt to recreate such a moment during the lockdown (a application Posting questions in Slack to encourage “accidental” dialogue, such as “Which movie can you cite the most?”) only shows how impossible they are to force.

Over the past few decades, the office has been redesigned with the value of interaction in mind. The wall of the compartment is getting lower and lower. In the end, they disappeared completely, replaced by large open spaces.This idea It is to promote more transparency, innovation and communication. This is also a great way to save money by squeezing people tighter. data Data from the British Office Association shows that since 2008, the average amount of space per workstation has declined.

But in order to pursue more interactive space, we ignore the actual working method of the human brain.the study display The noise of an open office can cause adrenaline levels to rise, a hormone that helps us fight, run, or freeze, instead of focusing on our work. Eavesdrop”Half version“, when a colleague calls, you can Distract Because our brain is trying to fill the other half.

The lack of private space in many offices makes us Uncomfortable and also. Lena Nyholm and Mia Ohrn, Swedish interior design Strategist Those who want to inject neuroscience into office design say that even decoration is important. Nyholm said that our brain responds best to blue and green because they mean fertile ground and plenty of food. But many offices have white walls, black chairs, hard edges and few plants. “When we look at the workplace with those eyes, it’s like winter-the brain is tense, there is no food, no warmth.”

In fact, the problems of open offices may undermine the advantages they should provide. Ethan BernsteinAn associate professor at Harvard Business School studied two major American companies that have turned to open design. He uses wearable tracking devices and email data to measure changes in employee interactions. In both cases, the volume of face-to-face interactions has decreased significantly, while email and instant messaging have increased.

He concluded: “Open architecture seems to trigger a natural response of human beings to social withdrawal, rather than promoting increasingly active face-to-face collaboration.” In another LearnHe found that intermittent rather than continuous social influence produced the best performance among people trying to solve problems together.

The epidemic gave us a chance to start again. We need to meet, cooperate, breeze and enjoy the hustle and bustle, but many of us also need to enter quiet corners to do some elements of our work. It may take trial and error to find the right balance.

Matthew Davis, associate professor of Covid office design after the University of Leeds research, said that some employers are turning their offices into flexible “collaboration” spaces, assuming that people will do their focused desk work at home. He said that employers are asking themselves: “How do we get space to encourage more chance encounters and more social activities?”

It is too early to know whether this will work in practice. Wouldn’t it feel weird to put “accidental conversations in the office” in one’s diary? Davis also warned that if employees do not have space to work from home, these new super social office designs may “inadvertently exclude” some employees.

Nevertheless, the employer is right to conduct the experiment. The office is not dead yet. If we recognize its weaknesses and use its strengths, it may be completely new.

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