Recruiter Offices: Open-Plan, Private, or Coffice?

By Dave Nerz

A study reported in Associations Now reports that some think the open-plan office is distracting and unproductive. Others have accepted the challenges.

The debate has been going on for years, and businesses have been built on filling office buildings with open-plan offices. If you go to law firms you will see lots of private offices, but if you go to recruiter offices, they will be open-plan except for the senior leaders and owners of the firm. Work-from-home recruiters have the advantage of private space, while others may opt to work from their favorite coffee shop.

So what are users saying about distractions in these various settings? A study presented to the Academy for Neuroscience in Architecture (ANFA) suggests that, “face-to-face interaction, conversation, and acoustic interruption may disrupt the creative process.” Most office inhabitants will agree that you can be drawn into hearing and then thinking about what your hear, causing you to be distracted you from your mission. It is a distinct advantage to be able to shut down those distractions.

“Coffices” (coffeeshops that are used as mobile worker offices) are reported to be more productive than open-plan offices because they have just the right level of background noise and that noise is less likely to draw you in. David Burkus writes about this for the Harvard Business Review in his article, “Why You Can Focus in a Coffee Shop but Not in Your Open Office.” While coffices may be ideal for some professions, it is not likely a great place to for recruiter offices as a recruiter starts asking a prospective candidate about a move to a new employer.

Our office just began a trial of work-from-home Wednesdays. It is intended to offer an option for a new and different work setting to see if anything good can come from it. Some find that that using different settings like planes, trains, hotel rooms, a work-from-home Wednesday, libraries, coffices, door open and door closed settings can improve output and impact creativity. Recruiter challenges are unique due to privacy issues. For example, it is not a good idea to use a coffee shop to make marketing calls to employers and to initiate candidate contact. There are two parties engaged in recruitment dialogs…the recruiter and the candidate/employer. Those parties are not going to feel comfortable with what is perceived to be a public conversation about the future employee or employer.

While it is impractical to offer everyone a private office, how have you managed to be productive and effective? Do you vary your work settings? Where do you do your best work? Do you ever have an employer or employee comment on background noise? Are you a work-from-home recruiter? What other kind of recruiter offices have you seen?

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