It is an unfortunate fact that office staff like to chat and it is not sensible to try and stop that habit. Many have tried over the years to no avail and whether the plan includes separate offices, open plan offices with high partitions, low partitions, no partitions – it just won’t work. One of the best ways of trying to stop gossip butting in on production levels is to embrace it and make a nice communal area for people to be able to sit in comfort in a designated space and chat on actual breaks. There are few people who, working together all week, can chat all day without pause so giving them somewhere to do it in the working day but for controlled periods can work a treat.
Coffee at the Desk is Bad for you anyway
And it can also be more than bad for paperwork or technology if it gets knocked over. The HSE have various regulations regarding breaks from work during the day and these are not designed just to quench a worker’s thirst – they are so that the person can step away from their work station, stretch their legs, increase their focal length and also have a drink, of course. Simply sipping a coffee at the desk achieves hardly any of this and so when any employer lays down coffee break rules there should also be a clause to make sure that everyone leaves their work area and goes elsewhere in the building. This will stop people perching on the edge of others’ desks chatting while the work is inevitably held up. It will also mean that everyone comes back properly refreshed and exercised so productivity will be better after the break than before. Statistics show that work rates drop when air quality is low and having everyone cooped up in one area all day doesn’t help oxygen levels at all.
Beat the Bully
Banning all casual chit-chat and providing a communal area in an office refurbishment has also the very worthwhile side effect of reducing bullying. This can’t really flourish out in the open and so if all breaks are taken communally, the bully will soon find that there are no suitable victims. Workplace bullying affects a huge number of people every year, with some so badly affected they have to leave work either permanently or on sick leave. By preventing the bully from having any secret corners in which to work, it soon dies out and this can only be good for productivity. Office refurbishments which include an open plan office with a separate communal area also makes staff feel more inclined to rest properly on breaks, meaning they are better placed to work harder in the afternoons. Not every office is lucky enough to have an accessible outdoor space, but if one can be incorporated into any staff area as a patio or courtyard, this too is really helpful because everyone likes a glimpse of the sky – even if it is a typical British grey.
This article is writte by Rebecca Fearn, freelance copywriter who often writes for Fraser Projects.