4 Concepts that are essential to making an open office plan work!
Workplace transformation is a term that is relatively new in the US. For years, companies overseas have been working in open concept office environment, otherwise known as an agile work environment. Recently this concept has entered the US with young technology companies as the first adapters of this work style. After working with numerous companies transforming the way employees work and personally converting my office space to an open concept, I have found these 4 trends are a must to a successful office environment.
1. Break Down of Barriers. When I talk to you about barriers there are two types of barriers I am referring to, the physical and also the implied. The physical barriers are wall to wall high cubicles where you can't even tell who is in a room. The implied is the hierarchy that these walls create. In other words, the better you are....the better desk and office you get. Once of the most successful office transformations I was involved in had the right approach. The CEO was the first person who gave up his office. On the first day he sat right next to an intern and started working beside her, even stopping to ask her opinion. In a traditional office environment interaction such as this would never occur. How could anyone complain about needing an office when the CEO didn't need one? Breaking down those barriers is the first way to get employees to interact and collaborate with each other, which leads up to our next topic.
An Open Concept office with Glass Partitions
2. More Collaborative Space. With a removal of barriers employees need more areas to meet and work. All types of spaces are needed from small to large. This is not a one room fits all approach, like the traditional office environment. There can be small breakout rooms for 2-3 employees to have an impromptu meeting and larger rooms for weekly team meeting. We also love to have extremely large rooms that can be broken down to smaller spaces. Flexibility is the key to making collaboration rooms work. You want there to be many different types and sizes of rooms with different seating options as well. Employees can reserve the best space that will help them achieve their desired meeting result.
3. Private Areas. Who doesn't need some heads down time or areas to make personal calls? In an open office environment, this one is an essential. Employees must have areas where they can work alone and not be interrupted. These spaces can help foster individual creativity and allow the employee opportunity to not be distracted. Employees may feel the loss of their personal space, but by having small private quiet rooms available they are afforded the opportunity to concentrate or take private time as needed.
4. Focus on Health and Wellness. A new office allows employees better options to increase their wellness. Studies have shown that sitting all day is detrimental to your health. Incorporating sit/stand desk options and working treadmills help increase employee health and productivity. In a recent survey in a large office transformation the number top employee requests were to have standing options to work and ergonomically correct chairs. A bonus is to include other wellness items like health snacks and drinks!
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