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Many businesses and organizations today prefer open office formats to closed ones. At least 70% of the American offices today follow this design in the bid to improve communication, increase collaboration, and create a team environment. An open office setup is more versatile and advantageous, factors that have made many employers make the switch.
There is however more to an open office setup than just remove the cubicle walls or tear up private offices. In addition to this, coworking spaces aren’t identical in most configurations. An open office set up in New York might be a lot different from another in Houston. For this reason, the company needs to be careful about how it designs and utilizes the space. Doing it wrong will be not only costly on your end but also cause setbacks in the future. Outlined below are a few tips and ideas on how to design and plan your next open office space.
1. Define Your Goals
Always have your goals in mind when looking to design an open office setup. Since company goals vary from one company to the other, it is essential you design the office space in a manner that makes workflow easy and manageable. This can only be done by first defining your goals and aspirations before coming up with the floor plan.
If your goal is to promote or encourage cross-collaboration between teams, you should then design the office for just that. The plan can be designed to allow specific teams to be able to work together for increased output. You can either station them close to each other or have them in an open setup all in one room. This encourages natural collaboration and workflow.
2. Create Some Balance
There is more to an open office than just one big open room with a bunch of workstations. The main idea behind the open office setup is to encourage good communication and collaboration while limiting distractions. That said, you will need an office plan that offers both worlds: employees should be able to work from their ‘collaborative’ workstations, as well as have a secluded area where they can handle tasks in solitude. This is particularly important if one is working on a particularly sensitive project, or wants to limit distractions.
Design the office set up with several breakout rooms or designated rooms. These could be rooms designed for making phone calls, collaboration, or even meal areas.
3. Have Some Ground Rules Set
While an open office setup might be a great idea, it can also be a source of distraction for some, if not all, employees. You, therefore, need to set some ground rules before throwing employees into the new arrangement. This can be prohibiting employees from taking meals at their desks or shouting at one another especially with a few desks apart. If the room is meant for quiet work, you might even consider establishing rules on music, phone calls, or holding discussions or conversations in the office.
4. Let Managers Embrace the Change
Making the switch from the traditional office design to an open office setup might be too much for some managers and leaders. While it may seem tough at first, the leaders need to get on board early and set an example for their juniors. While some managers may be encouraged to maintain private offices, they too need to learn to spend more time working in the open office area. As long as the managers and other seniors embrace this, employees are more likely to follow suit.
Although it may be tricky at first, taking all factors and goals into consideration should make designing an open office relatively easy. Readjusting from private offices to an open setup might take some time for some of the employees. Nevertheless, looking for ways to improve the office space, and taking on some trial and error can help make workflow even better.
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