The Gender Divide: Could Single-Sex Offices Benefit Us All?
Whether you think itΓÇÖs sexist, empowering or just plain unnecessary, women-only business space is gaining interest around the globe. We ask: could single-sex offices benefit us all?
Ahead of International WomenΓÇÖs Day tomorrow, weΓÇÖre exploring the rising trend of women-only offices. But perhaps women arenΓÇÖt the only workers who could gain from single-sex workspace?
Down with distractions
Here in the UK, itΓÇÖs still common practice to have single-gender grammar and public schools, where itΓÇÖs believed that both male and female students perform better without distractions from the opposite sex.
As adults, most of us like to think our adolescent years are behind us, but that doesnΓÇÖt mean weΓÇÖve outgrown the odd crush: a recent survey revealed that 46% of office workers will indulge in an office romance by going on a date with a colleague. While that might be good news for your love life, blurring the lines between the personal and the professional could also be bad for business.
BoysΓÇÖ zone: working harder in the men-only office?
ItΓÇÖs not just ladies who think single-sex offices could be a good thing. A study conducted last year revealed that 55% of men under 30 would prefer to work in a male-only environment.
Why? The most common reason cited by those surveyed was that they simply believed they would work harder and be more efficient in an all-male environment. However, avoiding the distractions of flirting with female colleagues was another popular reason.
Aiming for the right ambience ΓÇô a girl thing?
In a feature on the rise of the women-only workspace last year, Officing Today pointed to the example of Hera; a US-based business hub where freshly-cut flowers and fragranced rooms contribute to a ΓÇ£spa-likeΓÇ¥ atmosphere in the office. On the face of it, this soft, feminine ambience might seem a relatively superficial aspect to creating workspace which appeals to women, but itΓÇÖs actually part of a broader approach to create a working environment where women feel more comfortable.
After all, much emphasis has been placed lately on the relationship between the physical working environment and individual productivity and creativity. So on some levels this approach makes sense.
And if women-only offices became commonplace, that could open the door to create men-only workspaces too. This could lead the way on the creation of workspaces tailored to more focused worker needs; at least, if you believe men and women want different things from their workspace.
Mixing it up: the key to success?
Of course, globally there are some obvious benefits to having single-sex offices, particularly in parts of the world where culture and tradition make it difficult for women to mix with men in the workplace.
But hereΓÇÖs one last thing to consider. However you feel about a single-sex working environment, multiple studies have shown that mixed gender teams perform better than men-only or women-only teams ΓÇô whether youΓÇÖre looking at sales performance, profit, or the creativity of new ideas.
Maybe we need to work harder at making the mixed-gender workplace a success instead?
Ladies ΓÇô would you work in a women-only office? Gentlemen ΓÇô would you prefer a men-only office? Share your thoughts in the comments.