On completion of the workshops the notes were collated, analysed and then documented. The topics were broken down in to bullet points, and then prioritised based on how regularly they had been raised. Interestingly points 1, 2, 3 and 7 on the list all related to distractions and the solutions put forward to deal with distractions.
After the collected data had been studied the distractions were split in to three categories:
⁃ Walkways. Many distractions arose from a worker’s proximity to a thoroughfare within the office.
⁃ Doorways. As above, the closer a desk was located to a doorway the higher the level of distraction.
⁃ People. The data showed that a leading cause of distraction was interaction with or observation of interactions between other workers who inhabited nearby desks.
What the data also made clear was that the more social and interactive a work style was, the less impacted it would be by distractions. For example, when brain storming in a large group the individual members of that group are much less likely to be affected by other office workers walking past, or doors being opened and closed, than a solitary worker concentrating on a complex task.
Armed with the above conclusions we got to work designing the new office layout. Within the space we created three distinct styles of work area. Isolated individual work pods, generic desk work stations and collaborative meeting spaces.
The individual work pods were designed to allow those using them to tune out from all the noisy and visual distractions occurring in the larger office space. The pods are located as far away as possible from the pathways and doorways of the office and are fully close-able with acoustic properties to further insulate their inhabitants from the outside world. The pods were specifically targeted at users who had to tackle complex technical tasks and are allocated on a hotdesk basis to whomever has need of one.
The normal desk stations were moved away from doors and given visual protection from walkways using screens. The desks are not completely hidden from one another so as not to remove the social interaction or collaborative opportunities which an open plan office can offer.
Finally, the spaces most exposed to distraction were transformed in to collaborative meeting areas. With enclosed chairs and acoustically enhanced high walls each team space was still partially insulated from the general hub bub of the surrounding office. However, during the initial workshops it was highlighted that often when there were several teams brainstorming about different issues within ear shot of one another it was actually a member of an unrelated group that came forward with a solution. To avoid stifling this collaborative creativity some lines of sight were maintained between the adjacent meeting areas.