Not everybody loves working in an open office

4 May '2017 Knops

It seems times are over for old fashioned cubicles. More and more companies invest in great, spacious workplaces. Creative areas, shared desks, open rooms. To improve collaboration, communication and creativity, all to increase performance.


Creativity galore!

We must say, to us this is a great development. Open spaces, lots of windows, lots of light, colors, plants in the room, even stuff like a football table, are proven to be very advantageous when it comes to creativity and interaction with colleagues. Inspiring surroundings can have a great effect on the functioning of the brain, as it comes to creative output and even on stress levels. The brain gets more stimulus, but also literally more space.

And of course this is all an important part of being productive and for the quality of your work. But although open offices can improve creative power and collaboration, does this still mean performance does too?


Although a lot of workers benefit from those stylish, inspiring, creative workspaces, there is one thing companies sometimes seem to forget when re-decorating their offices. As cubicles disappear, it can be hard to find a place in that fancy open office where you can make a serious phone call. Or even harder, find focus when you really need to concentrate.

Recently we wrote an article about how silence can help you concentrate. It’s been proven that when you’re working in good focus, every disturbance costs you about 20 minutes to get re-focused. In the article we refer to an Oxford Economics research, that showed that a lot of employees think creative working spaces and open offices are too noisy and cause too much distraction.

Priorities in design

Overhearing conversations, people laughing, ringing phones and even the sound of copying machines, can be very annoying when you need to concentrate. Hong Kong Polytechnic University studied which parts of the office design had the biggest impact on employee’s productivity. They questioned almost 300 office workers and they found out that sound and temperature mattered the most.

But when it comes to designing the office, acoustics often aren’t the first priority. Although as research shows: silent areas, private offices or good acoustics, cannot be forgotten. Employers are not done once they’ve built that cool, creative workspace. There is more to productivity than just a playground for employees. Paying attention to reduce distracting noises appears to be a very important aspect.

Tune down the volume with Knops

The Oxford research showed that especially millennials are likely to take steps to block out distractions to improve their productivity. So what happens? Workers seclude themselves in conference rooms, work from home or coffee bars, and although there is nothing wrong with that: that was not the purpose of these fancy, creative offices.

Whatever your opinion of open offices is, fact is that most people need some silence to focus from time to time. With Knops we want to provide this for you. Even in an open office. Blocking noise when you need to focus, turning up the volume when you want to interact with your colleagues.

What is the most quiet place on Earth?

If you’re looking for silence (and by silence, we mean real silence) you could take a hike through the nearest forest. Sure, you’ll find silence there. But according to researchers there actually is no place on Earth free from human sound. So, where to go best if you really need some peace and quiet? According to acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton there is no place on Earth without any human sound ever. Also Antarctica or the North Pole are not quiet all the time, because even there you’ll hear planes cross over from time to time. Hempton made the search for real quietness his life