Have you ever considered the type of work environment where you thrive? Do you need a quiet space to work, think and operate within or can you sit at a Starbucks to get it all done?
As work environments move towards more community-based style, an important question arises … will you be able to focus in the new environment and get the same amount work done?
Employers are wrestling with this very question.
Quick History Lesson
My dad is part of the Veteran or Silent generation. When he began his career, he sat in an open bay with desks as far as the eye could see with no separation.
As Baby Boomers took over, we added offices to the mix, and the first cubicle made its entrance into the workplace.
The Gen-Xers (like myself) were familiar with working in a cubicle environment but some still aspired to have an office.
The Millenial generation desires an open environment that looks and feels “high tech” – a start-up feel. This generation craves collaboration and communication and is the first digital natives.
Generation-Z (or the iGeneration) who are entering their sophomore year in college on the front end and middle school on the backend will be the most distracted generation in history according to new research.
The question becomes how do we design a workplace that supports (at a minimum) four generations in one workplace, and how do we help them be productive?
Focus and The Open Plan Dilemma
Some employees (like myself) thrive in an open plan environment. The thought of being surrounded by four walls does not excite me and even hampers my productivity.
When I was studying for my Master’s degree, I developed a trigger, or cue, to tell my brain that it was time to focus. When I put earbuds in my ears, music or not, I went immediately into the focus zone. In fact, you could be standing right in front of me, and I wouldn't even know it.
The same holds true for me today at work. I now have developed a couple of triggers to help me focus:
- Earbuds – when my earbuds go into my ears, my brain remembers the trigger and focus’ up and distractions are tuned out.
- Music – I have a couple of music items that help me focus. Ludovico Einaudi is an instrumental album that has a cinematic quality and triggers my focus towards creativity. Lindsey Stirling is an electronic violinist and YouTube sensation. Her song Hallelujah is a writing focus trigger. When I need to work on a long-form writing piece, I put her song on repeat, and instantly I am in the zone.
Employee focus is a growing issue facing today’s workplace. Designers and planners are working diligently to combat distraction in the workplace, but they still struggle to find the optimal balance between open environments and focus.
[reminder]What triggers do you use to get into a focus state?[/reminder]
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