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Stress and the Environment

Stress activation always depends upon how an event is interpreted by how it is perceived. However, there are aspects of our day-to-day environment that can more easily be perceived as being stressful. These are called environmental stressors. An environmental stressor is something that is in our environment that can easily be perceived as annoying, distracting, uncomfortable or unpleasant. Environmental stressors don’t usually involve people, but relate to the conditions of the physical environment. Loud noise can be an example of an environmental stressor. 

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Workplace trend: Are open floor plans out?

A new workplace study by an international design firm found three key drivers for employee satisfaction in office environments — focus, balance and choice. 

Gensler’s national 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey found that increasingly common open floor office design can lead to workers being distracted and losing focus — and therefore reducing productivity.

Maintain the open design but provide employees a selection for when and where employees can work in that space.

Create multiple areas for collaboration and other spaces where an individual can escape to concentrate and complete their work. In return, employees will focus better on their work, perform at a higher level and be more satisfied. 

The Gensler findings:

Workers are struggling to work effectively: When focus is compromised in pursuit of collaboration, neither works well.

Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration: Space designed to promote collaboration without forgoing employees’ ability to focus are more successful

Choice drives performance and innovation

When Gensler embarked on a subsequent survey in 2008 during the recession, it found that there were four different “work modes” that employees engaged in. They were focus, collaborate, learn and socialize.