Is your office plan open, chaotic, unproductive and maddening? The hoped for camaraderie of your employees just never materialized and everyone seems disgruntled, harried and tired. Phones are ringing all over the place, you can see workers arched uncomfortably away from the person seated next to them, plugging the ear not glued to the phone with a finger and trying to hear their client over the in-office noise.
It’s enough to make one long for the days of the closed office, but we all know those days are gone – square footage is at too much of a premium, and there’s no way the rank and file will be qualifying for four walls and a window anytime soon. Of course, the alternative – a regimented cubicle world – is almost as maddening – but what if a compromise could be reached? Cubicle height extenders could allow some leeway and prevent workers from being either too exposed or too isolated.
Studies show that excess noise can actually undermine motivation; one study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology disclosed that 40 female clerical workers subjected to three hours of “low-intensity noise” were compared to a control group experienced three hours of quiet. Both groups were then given puzzles to solve – puzzles with no solution. The first group gave up quickly in frustration, while the second group stayed on task for much longer, trying new things and battling to complete the (unbeknownst to them) hopeless task.
If noise is one of the most disruptive factors, another is lack of privacy, When your workspace is continually encroached upon by chatty neighbors, food, and people walking around, it’s hard to stay focused. Wearing earbuds can block out sounds as well as serve as a sign that you don’t want to be disturbed, but it won’t stop people from frantically waving at in a co-worker’s sight line to share the latest gossip or gripe about the vending machine offerings.
Cubicles can provide a quieter, more private area, without devolving to feeling like employees are caged. Panel extenders can adapt low height cubicles to the appropriate height for each employee – those who need to collaborate can be grouped in relatively low cubicle height wall areas, while those who need more privacy and quiet can be given slots with higher cubicle walls and the corresponding amount of solitude.