The study determines the best seat in an open office

An unobstructed view and the fewest possible colleagues behind you is vital to a work ethic.

As researchers from University College London reported in PLOS ONE, what is important to satisfied, productive and team-oriented work is, among other things, what is in one’s field of vision.

The team surrounding architect Christine Seeler analyzed four floors of an international technology firm’s headquarters in London in 2018. On the one hand, employees were asked how satisfied they were with their workplace; On the other hand, information was collected about the seating locations of all participants.

The evaluation showed that employees with more offices in their field of vision rated their workplace environment less favorably. According to the authors, one reason for this may be that impaired vision is a distraction and making it difficult to talk to colleagues without disturbing others.

The window seat has a brightening effect

The staff also found it negative when their desks were moved away from the main room and there were many colleagues behind. Researchers here believe that this sitting position can lead to a feeling of losing control of the surrounding environment.

In general, participants from these two groups also tended to negatively rate aspects of teamwork such as sharing information with others, team identity and cohesion.

In contrast, those employees who sat facing the room and had relatively few offices in their field of view rated themselves as more focused, productive, and their teams in better contact. The window seat also had a positive effect: the employees involved felt more productive and focused than those sitting on the walls.

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Experts recommend niches for a retreat

However, the response rate for the study was only 16 percent. Additionally, results were obtained from only one company. Accordingly, further investigation is necessary, the authors write.

In general, employees in small, open-plan offices reported greater satisfaction with team cohesion, information sharing with colleagues, focus and productive work. Specifically, scientists also recommend designing smaller, more intimate areas.

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