Open offices might be the most polarizing concept in the office design world. Some businesses love the approach and point to numerous advantages. However, some other businesses are left scratching their heads wondering where all of the benefits are and what the hype was all about.
At Key Interiors, we can say definitively that an open office design is not hype or one of those highly touted ideas that sound great in theory, but fail to translate into the practical business world. And the reason we are so certain is because we have designed multiple open offices in various industries and marketplaces, and our customers have confirmed for us without hesitation that they are enjoying more collaboration, greater productivity, enhanced morale, better customer service, improved quality of work, and a stronger, healthier competitive profile and bottom-line.
And so, this begs the question: is implementing an open office design like playing the lottery — i.e. some businesses reap a windfall, while others are left out in the cold? Of course not! There is nothing experimental or abstract about an open office design. Like anything else in business and indeed in life, it all comes down to aligning with a set of core principles and best practices.
With this in mind, here are 4 proven ways to optimize an open office design and ensure that the investment and experience is clearly and measurably rewarding:
1. Make private and “heads down” work an option.
One of the misnomers of an open office concept is that the environment is basically a noisy, chatty free-for-all (think of a shopping mall food court). However, a properly designed approach will be balanced and include options for employees to carry out private activities (e.g. have sensitive or confidential discussions with colleagues, customers, peers, etc.), as well as go “heads down” when they need to focus.
2. Use moveable and modular furniture.
One of the biggest advantages of an open office design is that it is so versatile, and various areas — or the entire space — can be repurposed to suit changing needs, such as delivering training, presentations, workshops, and so on. However, to exploit this potential, the furniture must be moveable and modular. Otherwise, it will be a tedious and time-consuming process to shift from one layout to another.
3. Deploy breakout spaces.
Breakout spaces — which are small, comfortable zones separate from the primary work area — help control noise levels, and they give employees the opportunity to separate their work conversations from their personal ones.
4. Provide open office orientation and create policies.
Last but certainly not least, going from a conventional office design to an open office design is not just a physical change in the environment; it is a psychological shift for employees, who must familiarize and acclimatize themselves to a new way of working.
As such, it is vital to provide employees with an orientation period, so they can understand how to make the new layout work for them and their colleagues. Supporting this orientation with policies (e.g. limiting the use of speaker phones, establishing a scent-free policy, keeping things neat and tidy, not discussing personal or private issues in the main work area, etc). is also a good idea that will make the experience positive for everyone.
To learn more about making an open office design approach work in your environment and for your employees, contact the Key Interiors team today.
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