Open Work Spaces Popular, but Many Prefer Closed Offices

For peak productivity, where is as important as when to work, a survey suggests.

The open work space in which employees have their own desks but may be in cubicles or in rooms together has become the norm in many workplaces, and a survey from Robert Half shows it is the preferred work space for optimal productivity for 38% of employees overall.

This was followed by a private office with the door closed (36%), working from home (18%) and working from another offsite location (9%).

However, survey respondents age 55 and older have the strongest preference for working in an office, with nearly half (45%) reporting they work best in a private office with a closed door. Working in an open office (38%) was the top response among 18- to 34-year-olds. Telecommuting was a close second choice for younger workers, at 36%, compared to 26% of professionals ages 35 to 54 and 17% of employees 55 and older.

More than half of workers surveyed said their productivity peaks at the beginning of the week, with Monday (29%) edging out Tuesday (27%). After Hump Day (20%), worker productivity dips: 13% of employees do their best work on Thursdays, followed by 11% on Fridays.

According to the survey, many professionals said they accomplish more work at the start of the day: 44% are most productive in the early morning and 31% in late morning, compared to 2% who like to do work after work hours and late at night. Only 2% of workers surveyed said they get the most work done at lunchtime, while 14% chose early afternoon and 6% late afternoon.

Asked about the single biggest distraction that impacts their productivity during the workday, coworkers who are too chatty and social topped the list (32%), followed by office noise (22%), unnecessary conference calls and meetings (20%), cell phone use (15%) and unnecessary emails (11%).

The survey included responses from more than 2,800 workers ages 18 or older and employed in office environments in the United States.