HuffPost Live, Huffington Post's live-streaming video network, interviewed Tracy Wymer, Vice President of Workplace Research & Strategy on Friday, October 16. Conducted by Josh Zepp, one of HuffPost Live's founding partners, the interview discussed the rise of open plan workplaces and raised concerns as well as opportunities in response to their growing ubiquity.
Wymer discussed the contemporary shift in organizations' financial planning allocations from investment in real estate toward investment in people.
"Historically...the financial planning was really centered around the efficiency of the real estate or the office itself," said Wymer, "while in reality, the real estate makes up about five to six percent of your cost, while your people represent ten to 12 times that amount."
The shift in spending has placed new emphasis on amenities and workplace wellbeing in workplace planning, he said.
Wymer also addressed growing criticisms of open offices as compromising worker comfort, privacy and focus, raised in a recent HuffPost Business article.
"The cons [about open plan offices] have always been the acoustic and visual privacy distraction, but we feel that it goes a little bit deeper," said Wymer, referencing Knoll Research findings. "[The cons] can be alleviated by giving a greater sense of security in the workplace, almost a more intimate experience within the workplace."
Wymer also stressed that designing a place of work requires careful tailoring to the individual project.
"The workplace equation begins with work, which means that if you understand the nature of work that's being done there, and add to it a component of research, that's one aspect of it. The exponential factor is truly the culture of the organization, so it's definitely not a one-size-fits-all model that's being deployed today. It's much more bespoke, and it's much more about the change of the organization and the culture of the organization."