Accessibility in Open Space workspaces

29 May, 2024


Open space offices represent an innovative design in the world of workspaces.

They are characterized by the absence of permanent physical divisions, such as walls or cubicles, that segregate employees into individual spaces. Instead, workers share a work area common, creating an environment of collaboration and fluid communication.

These offices usually have desks and workstations distributed in a large, open space. The arrangement of furniture and equipment is carefully planned to optimize interaction between workers and foster a collaborative work environment. Instead of having private offices, managers usually work alongside the rest of the team, thus promoting a culture of equality and transparency. One of the main advantages of open space offices is their ability to facilitate communication and collaboration between team members.

Sensitivity and awareness of the needs and challenges of people with disabilities are essential to creating an inclusive and respectful work environment. Improvements to the limitations of open space offices:

  • Acoustic improvement. Noise is an important issue that can affect everyone who works in that environment, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. Some aspects to consider:
    • Impact on concentration and productivity: Constant noise can make it difficult to concentrate and affect workers’ productivity. Background chatter, phone calls, clicking keyboards, and other noises can be significant distractions, making it more difficult for people to focus on their tasks and complete them effectively.
    • Stress and fatigue: Persistent noise can cause stress and fatigue in workers. Being exposed to high levels of noise for long periods of time can increase cortisol levels in the brain. body, which can cause a general feeling of malaise and exhaustion.
    • Difficult communication: Noise can make effective communication between workers difficult. Telephone or face-to-face conversations can be difficult to maintain due to background noise, negatively impacting collaboration and coordination between team members.
    • Need for quiet zones: Many companies are incorporating quiet zones or quiet work areas where workers can temporarily retreat to perform tasks that require intense concentration or privacy.
    • Mitigation strategies: Some companies are implementing strategies such as installing acoustic panels to reduce sound reverberation or using noise-canceling headphones for workers who want to block out ambient noise. Additionally, behavioral guidelines should be established to minimize distractions, such as limiting personal conversations in shared work areas. ISO 22955: Quality of open office spaces (published in May 2021) provides technical and methodological guidance on the topic of acoustic quality in open offices. It tries to provide a solution, from an acoustic point of view, to the coexistence of the two theoretically contradictory realities in the office: oral communication and individual concentration work. That is, it integrates the cognitive perspective of sound into the design and provides clear instructions and values of certain acoustic parameters, depending on the activity, in order to ensure high quality acoustic design. The standard is intended to support design and planning decisions from the conception of the office to its use. It also seeks to help the different actors working in the planning, design and construction of offices to provide users with a good level of acoustic comfort. The ISO 22955 Standard is not mandatory, but its application to carry out good acoustic conditioning in open offices will provide important benefits such as: increased job satisfaction, greater productivity, greater well-being and less fatigue, fewer errors and greater precision, reduced stress levels and increased speed in completing tasks.
  • The lighting. Correct lighting is essential to create a comfortable work environment. Natural light will be prioritized, so the tables will be placed perpendicular to the glass facades of the building to achieve maximum use, but without causing glare on the computer screens. Vinyl will also be installed on the window glass to protect photosensitive people. In the case of artificial light, systems such as DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) will be used that allow control of brightness and color temperature, increasing or decreasing the intensity automatically according to the intensity of natural light and personal sensitivity. . This allows for much more regulated and comfortable lighting and great savings in light consumption. You can also have circadian lighting that adjusts to imitate natural light, which means that the lighting works in harmony with our body’s natural circadian rhythms, achieving an improvement in mood, productivity and concentration.< /li>
  • The furniture. Harmony and order is essential. To do this, you must have ergonomic and functional furniture, height-adjustable chairs and tables, chests of drawers with wheels, armchairs for resting, tables for working standing up, poufs and stools, closets to store coats and backpacks and meeting areas.< /li>
  • The decoration. Using personalized, impressive and attractive decoration, strategic use of colors to motivate and stimulate creativity, using biophilic and sustainable design with green and wooden walls and recycled elements, fosters a healthy work environment that is respectful of the environment and that provides a strong corporate identity.
  • Accessibility. Committing to inclusive offices by encouraging the promotion of diversity of profiles within the work environment ensures that all workers feel valued and respected.

Source: NAN Architecture