Open office formats have grown in popularity over the last ten years. In fact, close to 70% of American office workers now work in places that follow these design ideas. The attraction for most businesses is that an open office space can increase collaboration, improve communication, and promote a more connected team environment.
While there are benefits to having an open office space, there is more to it than getting rid of private offices and removing the cubicle walls. Additionally, every coworking space should not be identical. If you’re coworking in Cincinnati, for example, you likely have different criteria than someone using a shared office in New York would.
If a company is not careful in the design of their open office, it can actually set them back in some of the areas they were hoping to improve. Here are a few tips for businesses that are getting ready to plan their next open office space.
Define Your Goals
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to designing an open office. Different companies have different goals, and it’s essential that you design your office space to meet the needs of your company. Once you know your goals, it will be easier to design an office that will help you achieve them.
One example might be the desire to encourage cross-collaboration between specific teams. If you are looking to encourage certain teams to work together more, it may help to station them near each other in the open office space. This could help to naturally stimulate collaboration.
An open office is more than just a big, open room with a bunch of desks and workstations. The common work area is good for collaboration and communication, but there may also be distractions. A good open office design will provide workers with various areas that allow them to separate themselves from the shared work space to complete tasks that may require a little less noise.
Depending on your goals, you could design a number of different breakout rooms for specific purposes. These could include meal areas, designated rooms for making phone calls, and collaboration rooms where smaller groups can get away to work as a team.
Set Some Rules
Designing an open office space is good, but you can’t throw people into this new arrangement without setting some basic rules for the different spaces. You might set a rule that people can’t take meals at their desks or that people shouldn’t shout to someone sitting a few desks away. If you have spaces that are designed for quiet work, then you may want to establish rules like no taking phone calls, no music, and no holding conversations in these spaces.
Managers Need to Embrace the Change
If you are moving from a traditional office design to an open office, you need to get your leaders on board. Managers need to lead the change and set an example for all of the other people in the office. Even if some of the managers still maintain their own private offices, they should be encouraged to spend time working out in the open office area. When people see their leaders doing it, they will be much more likely to accept and embrace the change as well.
Designing an open office can be tricky, and you might not get it right with the initial design. Beyond giving people time to get used to the new work environment, you should also be open to the idea of making adjustments. Look for ways to improve the open office space, and experiment with some new ideas to see if you can make it work better for your organization.